The ‘Tempe Tornado’ Blows Into Ascot Saturday
Lealand McSpadden, who is known to his fans and friends as the “Tempe Tornado,” will bring the Bill Krug Enterprises sprint car from Phoenix to Ascot Park next Saturday and try and try to show that his strong showing in the California Racing Assn.'s southwest tour was no fluke.
McSpadden, 39, of Tempe, Ariz., who estimates that he travels some 80,000 miles a year racing all over the country, hasn’t been on Ascot’s fast half-mile track since April 12.
In that race, McSpadden was forced to drop out of the race on lap 13 with mechanical problems in the 30-lapper won by CRA point leader Brad Noffsinger.
However, it would be wrong to judge McSpadden’s abilities by that performance.
During CRA’s tour of the southwest in May, he won three of the five features conduct in one week--May 11 at Wichita, Kan.; May 14 at Mesquite, Tex.; and May 18 at Oklahoma City.
And in a 36-hour period the first week of March, McSpadden managed to win the opening race of the season at Baylands Raceway Park in Fremont, Calif., finish fifth in the World of Outlaws feature at Manzanita Speedway in Phoenix and finish third in a CRA feature at the California Midwinter Fair at El Centro.
Rain stopped him the next two weekends (including the scheduled Ascot opener on March 15), but he picked up again when the skies cleared.
On March 22 at Manzanita, McSpadden finished second. After that, he flew to Northern California where he won the Spring Natrionals at Baylands over a field that included World of Outlaw stars Sammy Swindell, Tim Green and Jimmy Sills.
In the recent Summer Nationals at Baylands, McSpadden finished third behind Sills and winner Ron Shuman, who lives about a mile from McSpadden in Tempe.
Despite his successes around the West, McSpadden, an aircraft machinist by trade, says Ascot is one of the hardest tracks to win at.
Ascot takes a special setup, he says, because of the long straights, tight corners and nearly flat corners.
“You need one car for wings, one for nonwing racing and then another for Ascot,” he says. “You can design a car just for Ascot, and it will be about a half-second faster and that is what most of the top drivers there do.”