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California Speedway Race Report

Tony G

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CMC California Speedway Race Report


Round 1 of the 2004 CMC season roared into California Speedway on March 6-7 with enthusiasm and a few new faces. This is the fastest track CMC will run all season! Newcomers Curt Lily, Carson Scheller and Andy Lee were set to enjoy their first weekend of racing with the CMC family. Perfect sunny, warm weather was on tap for the entire weekend. Many began arriving midday on Friday and used the time to get tech inspections done and finish those last minute adjustments while waiting for the infield gate to open at 6pm. It was certainly good to see familiar faces all fresh and smiling after the off-season. Everyone seemed anxious for the 2004 season to get underway.


This was going to be a busy, crowded weekend based on the number of rigs in the parking lot! Fearing that there would be no room for CMC as a group, Pat Stone offered up his pit bike to Greg Robinson who went through the gates first with a load of orange cones to secure a common area for CMC. The plan worked and most of the CMC group had paddock space together.


On Saturday the Rookies were introduced to the returning CMC veterans and were made to feel welcome. Practice got off to a somewhat rocky start after Mike Plum and Greg Robinson both cut tires from on-track debris. Brad Simpson developed a vibration, presumably from a bad tire. Dave Morin suffered electrical gremlins that would force an early retirement. Ed Varon had differential problems, which appeared to be terminal until newlywed Al Fernandez stepped up with the loan of a complete hub-to-hub rear end. That, along with rear wheels from Perry Kincy, made it possible for Ed to continue. Thanks Al and Perry! Kudos to Ed Varon and his crew for the weekend, Tom Dragoun, for putting in a huge effort to get the #24 back out in time for Saturday’s race. So, it appears that not only does CMC have a transmission that has seen service in several different Camaros, but now a rear end assembly as well. Al Fernandez joked with Ed that any points accumulated should be halved! The rookies all did very well and had huge smiles afterwards.


Saturday’s race grid saw a tremendous effort from Brady Flaherty, earning him the pole. Pat Stone also showed good speed and was rewarded with a great starting position. The rest of the grid was as follows: Perry Kincy, James Griffith III, Al Fernandez, Tim Bullock, Don Trask (for Team Trask), Greg Robinson (for Team Hi Line Motorsports), Andy Lee, Jim Griffith, Carson Scheller, Curt Lilly, and Mike Plum. Ed Varon and Brad Simpson would start at the rear due to missing the qualifying session.


Race #1 was held at 4pm Saturday afternoon and had great action and drama early on. Nearly 70 cars in this race group meant for tight battles for the soon-to-be infamous Turn 3 coming off the super speedway. The race group was split into three different groups for three separate green flags. CMC took the third green with the FFR cars gridded behind. Those at the back of the CMC grid got on the gas early in an attempt to catch up and were nearly at full song when the green flag flew. Ed Varon on the low side and Brad Simpson up high passed several cars before the first turn. Turn 3 was a mixture of tire smoke and mayhem but nearly all made it through cleanly. Pat Stone had contact with Brady Flaherty and many drivers found themselves taking evasive action. Jim Griffith made contact with Mike Plum as well. Ed Varon found himself getting through the mess cleanly and suddenly found himself in 3rd place! After the first lap the racing was fast and clean and stayed that way until the end. James Griffith took the win followed by Ed Varon, Greg Robinson, Mike Plum, Tim Bullock, Andy Lee, Al Fernandez, Don Trask, Perry Kincy, Brad Simpson, Carson Scheller, Curt Lilly, and Brady Flaherty. Pat Stone was moved to the back of the finishing order for his contact with Brady Flaherty and Jim Griffith received a similar penalty for passing under the yellow flag.


Saturday evening offered the chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company at a BBQ hosted by the Robinson family and crew. Crew Chief Byron Mathieu worked his magic on the BBQ while the margarita blender was in full swing. Several competitors and crew from AI/AIX stopped by as well. A good time was had by all.


Early Sunday morning the wind picked up and would stay for the rest of the weekend. Temperatures warmed up as well. Brad Simpson joined Dave Morin in the retirement department after learning that his vibration was differential related. First up on the schedule was the infamous inverted start CMC race. This would be run with the BMW group with grid positions determined from finishing positions in Saturday’s race. Greg Robinson had a great start and passed several cars on his way to Turn 3 and into a tremendous battle with Brady Flaherty that would last the entire race. The lead changed back and forth between these two cars until Brady Flaherty took the win followed by Greg Robinson, James Griffith, Mike Plum, Andy Lee, Don Trask, Tim Bullock, Perry Kincy, Pat Stone, Jim Griffith, Carson Scheller, Curt Lilly, Al Fernandez, and Ed Varon. Al Fernandez suffered fuel pick up problems and Ed Varon lost power and began to overheat. Both drivers came in early.


Sunday’s race qualifying saw a determined Mike Plum put his Camaro on the pole followed by Brady Flaherty, James Griffith, Andy Lee, Greg Robinson, Pat Stone, Jim Griffith, Perry Kincy, Don Trask, Ed Varon, AL Fernandez, Tim Bullock, Carson Scheller, and Curt Lilly. In the race Brady again showed smooth, consistent speed and took his second win of the weekend. Mike Plum came in a close second followed by James Griffith, Greg Robinson, Al Fernandez, Pat Stone, Don Trask, Jim Griffith, Perry Kincy, Carson Scheller, Tim Bullock, and Andy Lee.


In post-race inspection Nick Steel’s car was found to be in violation of CMC rules and was therefore DQ’d for the weekend. Pat Stone was placed on probation for contact.


The rookies did an outstanding job this weekend. Curt Lilly kept a good attitude despite experiencing more motor problems, but he vowed to be back soon. Carson Scheller did very well along with Andy Lee. CMC expects more new faces to join the ranks as the season progresses. Brady Flaherty drove well all weekend despite having a little racetrack body work to attend to. Congratulations to Brady on his two wins in Race #2 and 3 and to James Griffith for a solid performance all weekend and his first CMC win in Race #1.


Next up is Round 2 at Buttonwillow on April 3-4, 2004. You can bet that another great weekend will be in store as more cars are expected for this one! Thanks to everyone for making this a great weekend. See you at Buttonwillow!


Greg Robinson

CMC Director

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