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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | MOTOR SPORTS / VINCE
KOWALICK

Spangler Seeking a Smooth Journey

September 05, 1998|VINCE KOWALICK

Keith Spangler on Friday surveyed the track he'll be driving on this weekend in the Ford L.A. Street Race.

"It was kinda bumpy," Spangler said.

Same might be said for Spangler's career. But such is life in short-track racing.

With an unprecedented purse of $153,300, the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series will join the three-day schedule with a 125-mile race Monday on the 1.4-mile road course that snakes through Exposition Park and between the Coliseum and Sports Arena.

Spangler, 28, of Northridge, ranks seventh in points and has two top-five finishes in 10 starts. A former regular at Saugus Speedway who began racing as a senior at Granada Hills High, Spangler has had moderate success in nine seasons in the touring division.

The first-place purse of $15,500 rates a pretty penny for Spangler and his father, Loren, a former racer who builds race cars for a living and serves as his son's crew chief.

"We have to be really choosy what we spend our money on," Spangler said.

The team began operating out of the family garage a decade ago. For the last five years, Loren has operated Spangler Racing from a garage in Chatsworth.

"We've progressed from our backyard to our frontyard to this garage," Loren said. "And sponsors don't want to see you in a garage. They want to see you in a race shop."

Still, Spangler and son, at times, still feel like they're spinning their wheels.

"It can be rough after coming home from a long weekend that didn't go well," Loren said. "It doesn't seem to make sense to take a $65,000 race car to a track and try for $15,500 to win. But that's the way it is."

Attracting badly needed corporate sponsorship is as much a goal this weekend as winning. Of course, one tends to attract the other.

"It's really important to do well," Spangler said. "I'd like to move up to the next division, maybe the truck series. But you can do anything you want if you have enough money."

*

Steve Portenga of Sparks, Nev., leads M.K. Kanke of Granada Hills by 60 points in the Southwest Series.

Bob Lyon of Agua Dulce (ninth), Dennis Dyer of Palmdale (11th) and Frank Maronski of Quartz Hill (13th) also are entered.

A maximum of 900 points are available in the final five races of the season. Monday's race will be the 12th this season.

*

The Sprint Car Racing Assn. makes its second visit this season to Ventura Raceway tonight. It's part of an SCRA doubleheader weekend that concludes Sunday at Perris Auto Speedway.

Richard Griffin holds a 28-point lead over Mike Kirby of Lomita. Kirby has a record seven SCRA victories at Ventura, including the last event held there May 30.

Rip Williams of Yorba Linda, third in points, has five victories at Ventura.

The Wags Dash, scheduled for Oct. 31 at Ventura Raceway, has been rescheduled for Nov. 14.

The race is staged annually by Ken Wagner, an Orange County fund-raiser who rewards needy racers.

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