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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | MOTOR SPORTS NOTEBOOK

Racing Is Relative for Harris and Scully

July 14, 1999|DARIN ESPER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Cousins Alex Harris of Simi Valley and Shane Scully of Encino are locked in a battle for second place in the United States Auto Club Western Midget Series, separated by 12 points.

Veteran Marc DeBeaumont of Clayton leads the points standings with 350 points heading into a race Saturday night at Ventura Raceway, the second of three 1999 appearances by the Midgets at the one-quarter-mile clay oval.

Ventura promoter Jim Naylor won't have to do a Richard Dawson imitation, however, since there is no family feud between Scully and Harris in their first season of direct competition.

"He's just another competitor on the track, even though we're all friends," said Harris of Scully.

Said Scully: "When we're all out on the race track, we're all out for ourselves."

Scully, 27, was 1995 Western Midget rookie of the year. He has 283 points with 12 top-10 finishes in 1999.

Harris is a 21-year-old rookie and a junior at Cal State Northridge who has a track record of success. He won the USAC TQ Midget championship in 1997 and 1998 and holds two series records driving a car that was purchased from Scully.

Harris broke the TQ Midget record for season victories with 12 in 17 races (Ricky Shelton of Huntington Beach won 10 races in a 24-race schedule) and he is tied with Scott Hansen of Simi Valley for career TQ Midget victories with 26.

In 1999, Harris has 271 points with one victory, two fast times and 10 top-10 finishes in 13 races.

DeBeaumont has two victories, two fast times and 13 top-10 finishes in 16 races.

The cousins followed different paths to the Western Midget Series.

Harris started racing Quarter-Midgets at 6 years old, winning four state championships and two national championships before moving to the TQ Midgets in 1995.

Scully started racing TQ Midgets in 1990, after dropping out of Arizona State.

"I couldn't take it anymore," Scully said. "I wanted to race, that's all I ever wanted to do, but the family wouldn't allow me to."

His grandfather, Louis Senter, is well-known on the Indy Car circuit as a car owner for Jim Hurtubise and as a wheel manufacturer.

"They're fully supportive," Scully said of his family, "And have been since the moment I decided to race."

Harris's uncle, Leonard Harris, was killed drag racing in 1960 two months after winning the first National Hot Rod Assn. nationals in Detroit.

Alex's father, Orville Harris, was not going to allow Alex to move up in class, but changed his mind.

"I felt like if I didn't offer him the opportunity to go farther, I might be depriving him of the chance to succeed at something he wants to do and is good at," Orville said.

Both cousins are aware that the Western Midget Series has served as a springboard to greener pastures for many drivers.

P.J. Jones of Rolling Hills has risen to the CART series after spending time in the USAC National Midget Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

Jason Leffler of Long Beach has won two consecutive USAC National Midget championships and recently signed to drive in the NASCAR Busch Series next year for Joe Gibbs, former coach of the Washington Redskins.

Billy Boat of Phoenix moved directly from the Western Midget Series into an Indy Racing League ride for A.J. Foyt.

Scully, who served as team manager for Johnny Parsons Jr. at the Indianapolis 500 in 1991 and 1992, has been discussing with his sponsors the possibilities of competing in the IRL next year. He claims to be the only Midget driver to have the entire cost of his racing covered by his sponsorship money.

Harris has been dependent on the family bank account. That might run dry after the Midget Nationals at Belleville, Kan., in the first week of August.

Scully expects to return from Belleville with the points lead, while Harris is hoping to secure either a sponsorship deal or a national driving deal.

"Sure I want to beat him," Scully said of Harris. "This is my year to focus on winning the championship."

Said Harris: "There's a chance for me to catch Shane. It seems like every race I keep catching up to him."

*

Greg Voigt of Goleta, 1995 Street Stock champion at Ventura, won the 50-lap Super Late Model main event Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. . . . John Watkinson of Canyon Country won the 30-lap grand American Modified main event and T.K. Karvasek of North Hills captured the 25-lap Super Stock feature.

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