The right rear tire from Chad...
The right rear tire from Chad Kemenah's car is in just a bit better condition than that of Steve Kinsers. It was still used up.
A historic win and a historic...
A historic win and a historic view. The Speedway was sold out and every fan in the seats got a world class show.
A segment off of a photo montage...
A segment off of a photo montage that was displayed as you walked in to the track. A glimpse of past Western World winners. Steve Kinser in his younger days. Notice the absence of sponsors names all over the driver suit. Just Bell and Valvoline were on the suit, a far cry of the suits that drivers wear today. Just another example of how things have changed.
CT: I have a very special racing memory here, back in the late 80"s at the Western World Championships the weather was not cooperating and the mile was flooded and the inner track at the time was a mile not the 3/8 it is today. They decided to race on the mile, you and Steve Kinser put on a driving clinic. I do not think a lap went by where there were not at least three lead changes, sometimes several in one corner. If I remember you and Steve were the only cars on the lead lap at the end. In my mind that was one of the best non-wing Sprint car races I had or have ever seen. Do you remember that race?
Ronnie Shuman: Yeah, I finished second, again. That was a great show. It was one of those days where everything was perfect. The car was perfect for the track and I was dialed. Unfortunately so was Steve. That was a great race; we were pulling wheelies, giving each other slide jobs, everything was perfect. A true Manzy moment.
Danny Lasoski "The Dude"
Danny Lasoski is a survivor; he has survived the ups and downs of the sport. He is a cancer survivor and a real racer. He keeps on keeping on and is still as competitive as ever. He is campaigning on the WoO series and he is as competitive as ever.
CT: Danny, what do you think about Manzanita closing?
Danny Lasoski: I love this place. I love racing here. This is the last of the big houses. I hate to see this happen. It is just so sad. I won the 1992 Western World Championships here and that was a special win for me. Any win here at Manzanita is a win you earn there are no easy wins here. People come here to win not participate. This is a special part of Sprint Car history. A lot of very talented racers have gone through the gates here and I hate to see the gates closing for good. I wish it would not happen.
Sammy SwindelOne half of the pair that seemed to personify the WoO in the early years of the series. It was the Sammy and Steve show. That was how it was billed. The battles were classic. Two men highly motivated to win. Sammy was always cast at the intellectual racer; meticulous about preparation and the appearance of the car. Each time the car rolled out of the trailer it was spotless. The preparation paid off he won on a very regular basis. There is now doubt about Sammy's ability to drive and work on the car.
CT: Sammy, what are you feelings about Manzanita closing?
Sammy Swindel: It is very sad. I hate to see it happen. It will be missed. I have no real emotional ties to this track but it will be very sad to see the track close. I liked racing here.
Chad Kemenah a relative newcomer on the Outlaw tour, but he has some very impressive wins in his short time on the series. He qualified 8th for the last race at Manzanita.CT: Chad, what are you feelings about Manzanita closing?
Chad Kemenah: I have only raced here 4 times but I really like the track it is fast and suits my particular style. I really like racing here. I remember coming here as a fan and the shows were always great. It is sad to see this track close; it is a real loss not to just the racers and the fans but to the local community as well.
The final race was a barn burner. Chad Kemenah led every lap and was only threatened for the win a couple times. The real show was for second place it was classic Steve and Sammy trading paint. There were several restarts but Chad held of the charging pair. Sammy would succumb to a blown right rear to take him out of the race. This is not to say that the race was handed to Chad, Steve put on some real valiant moves to try and get by Chad but it just was not going to happen. Chad was hooked up and just plain faster. It was his night to shine. It was a fitting last WoO race at Manzanita speedway.
In a cruel twist of irony the day after Chad's big win at Manzy his team owner, Jon Kantor announced he was closing the team and placed all of the assets for sale.Manzanita has been the bulwark of dirt racing in the Southwest; the place has always been about speed. The closing will cause some ripples within the racing community. The community at large will also suffer. There are a good number of jobs tied to the support of a racetrack and they are not all linked to racing. It will be a huge loss to the Phoenix area and the surrounding states. It truly is a sad day in Mudville.
There may still be hope for Manzanita Speedway; there is a group of concerned investors, racers, local business people, who are trying to save the Speedway. They are trying to develop a land swap and financing package that will allow the track to survive at the current location. If that is not possible there is plan B being developed. The plan is to secure some land and move the track. Take the clay, the stands and the announcer's tower along with the name and move the track to another location. There have been talks with some of the nearby Indian Reservations about securing long term leases on land. There may be a ray of sunshine yet to break through the dark clouds, a silver lining if your will.