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RACING SCENE Column

RACING SCENE Column
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LOS ANGELES – The three Agajanian brothers—Cary, Jay and Chris—were honored in San Pedro on Monday, October 10 in 10:00 am to noon ceremonies. The sons of the late Indianapolis 500 car owner and race organizer J. C. Agajanian have been involved in motor-sports promotion themselves for more than three decades. They were among the six new inductees into the San Pedro “Sportswalk to the Waterfront” in the downtown district near the Port of Los Angeles.
 
A continental breakfast and photo session preceded the outdoor ceremonies, attended by more than 250 persons. A sold out luncheon from 12 noon to 2:00 pm followed in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom. Master of Ceremonies John Pappadakis opened the ceremonies. Co-emcees were retired Los Angeles sports anchor Ed Arnold and ex-Los Angeles Rams 1970s quarterback Vince Ferragamo.
 
A table of retired NFL LA Rams players were introduced. Each inductee spoke to the audience about their connection to San Pedro and appreciation for their induction. The Agajanian's spoke about their grandfather J. C. Agajanian, Sr. who came to San Pedro in the 1920s and established his residence and business there. J. C. Jr. continued the family pig farm/garbage collection business and began his involvement in auto racing there. His youngest son Chris still has a business in San Pedro.
 
The San Pedro Chamber of Commerce started the ceremony in 1978 to honor famous local persons from various sports disciplines. Each honoree has a bronze plaque installed into the sidewalk on Sixth St. between Palos Verdes and Centre St in San Pedro. The plaque contains the name of each inductee and year of induction. More than 100 plaques have been awarded. The 2016 ceremony followed a three year hiatus. The tradition is patterned after the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring persons in show business.
 
Inductees this year in addition to the Agajanian brothers were: Jon Arnett, a 1950s USC football All-American and 1960s LA Rams NFL Pro Bowl running back; Doug Krikorian, a 44-year sports reporter for newspapers in Los Angeles and Long Beach; retired NFL referee Hendi Ancich; San Pedro High School five-time championship football coach Mike Walsh, plus local high school and SE Louisiana University three-sport star Sarah Gascon. Arnett, who resides in Portland, Ore., was unable to attend because of hip replacement surgery. His wife and daughter Kimmi represented him.
 
The October 8 USAC Western Midget Series race in Tulare, Calif. had a 13 car field and contained four female drivers (31% of field). Courtney Crone, 15, set the fourth fastest qualifying time on the banked, third-mile clay track. All four females raced in the second heat and finished second through fifth. In the 30 lap feature, high school sophomore Crone finished a strong third. Maria Cofer, 15-year old daughter of 1994 USAC Western Midget driving champion Johnny Cofer, placed fifth in her best result to date.
 
The USAC-CRA 410 sprint car circuit has had 13 different features winners in the first 18 races of the scheduled 24 event season. Ryan Bernal won in two different cars (No. 73x and No. 56) for different teams. At least three of the winners won their initial USAC-CRA main events.
 
The third annual George Snider Classic King of the Wing winged sprint car event at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield ran on Sunday, October 9. The series was organized in 2014 by Indy 500 veteran Davey Hamilton and had an event in Nor Cal prior to the Bakersfield high-speed banked, paved half-mile event. The fastest lap speeds topped 124 mph at KCRP. Jo Jo Helberg, from Rohnert Park, Calif. set fastest time of 19 qualifiers in his self-modified 2012 Beast chassis. The 26-year old won the 18 car 30-lap feature. ... Idaho resident Sierra Jackson, 23-year old 2015 KCRP Snider Classic winner, finished second. She was 1.724-seconds in back of Helberg. Five of 18 starters completed all 30 laps. Davey Hamilton, Jr., finished fourth and won the KotW Series 2016 championship.
 
Alex Grigoreas won three of the first four California Lightning Sprint (CLS) main events this season. He had only won one CLS main event prior to 2016. As point leader he hoped to win his first racing championship in his own No. 86 Henchcraft/Yamaha R1. He was the series point leader after 12 of 18 scheduled races. Alex, a 48-year old truck driver, was on his job August 29 in the high desert area of San Bernardino County. He experienced chest pain and called 911.
 
An ambulance responded and he was in the emergency room of a hospital in Apple Valley within 13-minutes. Prompt surgery took 45-minutes. It was successful and Alex is recovering nicely. He will miss the balance of the 2016 racing season on doctors advice. After having his career-year interrupted, Alex hopes to return to racing in 2017. As of October 12 Alex still ranked seventh in CLS driver points.
 
The CLS season had its seventh different feature winner in 15 races on October 1 at the fifth-mile clay Ventura Raceway. Bruce Douglass, a 65-year old local veteran of numerous racing disciplines, including race trucks and 360 cu. in. sprint cars, won the 20-lap feature. He drove his own No. 31 Henchcraft/Suzuki ZK-12, to his first-ever CLS victory. He did so at his home track in front of Ventura friends and family members.
 
Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe has been one of the top contestants on ABC's “Dancing With the Stars” this season. On Monday, October 10 James and Sharna Burgess, his pro dancer partner, scored the week's high score for their tango. Two judges awarded 10s and one gave a 9 for 29 out of 30 maximum points.
 
The show replayed his near fatal Indy 500 practice crash in turn three on May 18, 2015. It related his long recovery efforts. James showed Sharna the scar in his left side where the suspension piece that entered his leg exited. Recorded comments by his parents, Jeremy and Arlene, and trauma surgeon Dr. Tim Pohlman were shown.
 
Dr. Pohlman said James' pulse stopped while being wheeled to surgery and his blood had to be replaced four times. He said the odds on surviving James' injury were “zero”. He credited James' excellent fitness and prompt medical attention for his survival. Dr. Pohlman has become a close friend of James and appeared in person on the Monday live TV show from LA.
 
Persons who receive the Indy Car Insider newsletter via the internet should check the October 12 edition of the Insider. A four minute and 34 seconds video shows the Indy crash, hospital recovery, parents and surgeon comments, and those of Mike Yates, Manager of Track Safety. It concludes with the white-suited James and his partner outstanding tango. The next dancers leaving the show will be shown on the October 18 DWTS TV show.