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Motor Racing : In Area Midget Racing, He’s the Leader of Flock

Robby Flock has already made a name for himself as one of the top midget racers in Southern California.

He finished third in the USAC western series last season and, after two victories at Ascot this season, is holding steady at third in the standings again this year. He was National Midget Racing Assn. champion for three-quarter midgets last season. And when he races at Ascot Saturday night, he’ll be going for his second double victory of the season before a crowd that knows him well.

But he’s still building his reputation on the national scene.

Asked if he was related to former stock car racers, Tim and Fonty Flock, Robby said, “As far as I know, we’re distant cousins. I read a story the other day where Tim Flock was asked if he was related to the youngster Robby Flock, and he said, ‘If he wins Indy, he’s mine.’ ”

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Flock likes that story. It shows, for one thing, that he is being noticed. And it brings up his dream--driving at Indy.

“That’s what I’ve always wanted to do, ever since I started racing go-karts,” he said. “I’m not going to be able to buy a ride and start at the top, so I’m working my way up. I got serious when I started racing TQs (three-quarter midgets) and I’m doing real well in midgets this season. I have a Super Vee deal happening and I have to hope it keeps going.”

Flock, an ambitious 22-year-old who works for his father, selling and repairing vacuum cleaners in City of Industry, took a big step toward the big time when he went to Indiana last month.

Through owner Larry Howard, he was able to get a ride in the midget that Johnny Parsons had been driving. When Parsons qualified for the Indianapolis 500, Flock drove the little open-wheel car in the Night Before Indy race at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Two days later he drove it at the Winchester, Ind., Speedway.

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He qualified second fastest at Indianapolis Raceway Park but finished 14th in the 400-lap feature when he had shifter problems. He qualified second-fastest at Winchester, too, and finished third.

The showing at Winchester was especially impressive, considering Flock’s lack of experience on high-banked paved ovals. Most of his driving has been on dirt tracks, such as the track at Ascot. His third-place finish his first time out on a track banked at a 35-degree angle raised some eyebrows.

And he did it in the rain, for good measure.

“I hadn’t raced on pavement in about a year and a half, and I had never raced in the rain before,” Flock said. “I took a quick lead, but then I backed off a little because of the rain. I tend to be kind of a conservative driver, anyway. I like to play it cool, be consistent, and finish the race.

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“With the rain, I wanted to be sure that I didn’t crash the car, especially since it wasn’t my car. The fast way is to diamond the corner off, and I wasn’t even doing that. I was going smooth. I was still the top rookie in the field.”

Flock is proud of that because the next rookie, who finished sixth, was John Andretti, Mario Andretti’s nephew.

“In the Night Before Indy race, I know Mario noticed me,” Flock said. “He came around checking out the car before the race. I could tell they were worried about me because of the way I had qualified.”

Flock, who won the midget features at Ascot Park May 4 and May 12, is third in the USAC Jolly Rancher regional series standings behind two-time national champion Sleepy Tripp and Rusty Rasmussen. He also won the T-Q race at Ascot May 4, so when the program begins Saturday night at 8, Flock will be looking for his second double of the season.

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The more doubles the better, Flock figures, as he tries to get his name in the news as often as possible. The idea is to get rides, to be good enough to drive for other people, and he’s just breaking into that world.

He started driving for his dad, Linn, and they put a lot of money into his racing before he started driving for Bob Bogan in the TQ series last season. He still drives for Bogan, but he also drives a TQ for Fred Muenlehort in Ventura on Friday nights when he doesn’t have a conflict with the midget series, where he’s driving for Bill Mayhew.

“It really feels good when somebody wants you to drive his car,” Flock said. “I’m hoping some of these other deals come through, too, so I can move up. Things are looking pretty good for me right now.”

SPEEDWAY BIKES--Sam Ermolenko of Cypress, No. 1 scratch rider in Southern California this season, will seek his second victory at Ascot South Bay Stadium in the American Motorcyclist Assn. speedway program at 8 p.m. tonight. . . . John Cook, winner of last weekend’s Nissan American Speedway Final, will compete in a program starting at 8 p.m. Friday at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. He will be featured in a match race with Ermolenko, who also qualified for the next round of the world championships last weekend. Both are expected to make the World Team Cup roster for the competition at Long Beach Aug. 10.

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MOTOCROSS--CMC Motocross is scheduled at Ascot Park at 7 p.m. Friday.

STOCK CARS--Defending champion Ray Burns of Sun Valley is out of first place in the Curb Motorsports NASCAR Winston Series standings for the first time this season. Jerry Johnson of Harbor City took over the top spot last week and Burns slipped to third behind Don Wright Jr. of Simi Valley. They will race Sunday night at Ascot Park in a program, starting at 7 p.m., that will include pro stocks, bomber Figure 8s and oval cars. . . . Bill Elliott will carry a CBS camera when he tries to defend his Michigan 400 title Sunday afternoon at the Michigan International Speedway. The Grand National race will be televised live, nationally, by CBS (Channel 2, 10 a.m.). . . . Modifieds, sportsman cars, street stocks and Figure 8s will race Saturday night at Saugus Speedway. The program will begin at 6 p.m. with an ego challenge for amateurs, followed by the races and a destruction derby.

SPRINT CARS--The KRACO-CRA Series will visit the -mile dirt oval at Santa Maria Speedway Saturday night for the first of three events there this season. Brad Noffsinger of Huntington Beach leads the points race with 940 points. Eddie Wirth is second with 919 and Mike Sweeney is third with 911.

OFF-ROAD--Round 3 of the Budweiser Short Course off-road races will be held at noon Sunday at the Perris Raceway. . . . Ironman Ivan Stewart will give a free seminar on all aspects of off-road racing, from safety to competition, next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the National Guard Armory in Van Nuys.

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SPORTS CARS--The Porsche Owners Club is holding a time trial and drivers’ training Saturday and Sunday at the Riverside International Raceway.

FORMULA VEE--The second Formula Vee Assn. races of the season will be run Saturday and Sunday at Carlsbad.

KARTS--Pro karts will race on the -mile road course Friday night at Saugus Speedway beginning at 8.

NOTEWORTHY--Walt Carter, vice president and general manager of the Riverside International Raceway, has announced his resignation to accept the newly created position of national manager of motor sports for Nissan USA.

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