HUGE CROWD @ IRWINDALE NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION 2 – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Aug. 30 – It was a wild and crazy night sponsored by Pick Your Part Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. A capacity crowd of 6,500+ attended a seven event program that promised thrills, laughs and excitement to expectant fans of motorized mayhem. The speedway and competitors delivered that as promised in abundance.
Speedway officials delayed the start of the event ten minutes to allow many cars lined up for several blocks on Live Oak Ave. in both directions and on the nearby 605 Freeway off-ramp to get into the track parking lot. The traffic backup lasted about an hour and many fans were still at the ticket windows waiting to buy tickets well past the advertised 7:00 starting time. Eventually the speedway's large neon sign adjacent to the 605 Freeway flashed “sold out” for late arrivals.
Events scheduled during the three hours of on-track action and entertainment on the half and third-mile tracks were:
> NASCAR super stocks race.
> Open competition race.
> Compact cars enduro race.
> Seidner Collision Centers skid plate cars race.
> Auto soccer match.
> Compact cars demolition derby.
> Trailer race.
SUPER STOCKS: Event one was a NASCAR Super Stocks 30-lap point race on the half-mile. Eight starters were fully inverted with faster qualifiers at the back. The race had three leaders. Gary Frankovich started third and led the first four circuits in his Chevy Impala SS. Craig Rayburn, from seventh in his Camaro, led laps 5-29. Fifth starter Henry Miles, from Palmdale, ran a close second from lap 8 to the final lap in the No. 99 1976 Camaro owned by former series owner/driver Scott Klassen. On lap 30, with the checkered flag waving, grandfather Miles cut sharply from the outside in turn four to the inside and beat Rayburn to the finish line by 0.202. An estimated 50-60% of the spectators present for the crashing/bashing events cheered loudly for the oval track racing excitement.
Rayburn, Greg Crutcher, fastest qualifier/point leader Zack Green, and Frankovich completed the top five. Seven drivers finished and all logged 30 laps in the all-green, 10:27.531-timed race that averaged 86.052 mph. Miles, 48, moved from third into second position in current points, only 16 digits in back of leader Green,with three races remaining. The final race in October will award double points.
“It's my first-ever main event win at Irwindale,” Miles said. He has one second and two thirds at IS during his career. He has won features at Saugus Speedway and at the Kern County Willow Springs oval. “This trophy is going on my mantle at home,” the jubilant driver told the media. Miles said he raced at IS from 1999 (year one) through 2004. He then took time off from 2005-2013 to concentrate on his family and groundwater testing job. He returned to racing at the start of 2014.
ENDURO: Four-cylinder compact cars raced in a 30-lap “enduro” on the third-mile track and infield using a six-turn “roval” configuration. Huge white tires marked the backstretch jog into the infield two turns and back onto the third-mile third turn. The race had a planned caution flag after 15 laps to allow a switch to a relief driver for the second half of the race if teams desired. Jim Smith and Gary Scheuerell started 15th and led laps 5-30 for the victory. They lapped the entire field and won in 26 minutes at an average speed of 22.801 mph. The Honda tam of Robert Rice/Jimmy Altman finished second, a lap back. Brothers Val and Tony Cummings ran 28 laps for P. 3 and edged the Dusty Morgan/Bo Tucker duo. IS infield announcer Jason Galvin drove his Honda Civic solo to P. 5 after losing a lap for cutting inside the third/fourth turns through the infield. Seventeen of 23 cars were racing at the finish. The winning team ran the fastest race lap of 21.301 (56.279 mph).
OPEN COMP 30: Eight vehicles—two each modifieds. Southwest Tour trucks and Mopar pure stocks, a super stock and a Ford Mustang convertible—comprised the field on the third-mile oval. Jeff Williams, from pole in his Ford F-150 truck, led the first 16 laps. Eighth starter Jerry Toporek, from Venice, charged past Williams for the lead on the inside in turn four during lap 16. His Lucas Oil Modified ran won by half a straight (3.249 seconds) over Williams. It was his second IS open comp victory in two seasons and third ever at the track including a Figure 8 triumph. Newcomer Randy Hannah, from Ridgecrest, took third in his modified and completed 29 laps. Greg Crutcher's S/S Camaro placed fourth. Ken Michaelian's Mopar pure stock completed the top five. Every driver finished the ten minute race with one caution for a solo spinner.
AUTO SOCCER: Two teams of three sedans represented Pick Your Part and Low Budget TV. A surplus LA County Sheriff black & white patrol car was the referee car. The soccer “ball” was a round 450-pound, five-feet tall empty propane tank, painted white and black. Four concrete K-rails at each end of the infield served as goals. Drivers tried to push the ball with front bumpers past defender cars into the goals. Blocking and take-away moves were encouraged, but difficult to do. PYP won 6-2 over LBTV in a 14-minute match that had fans cheering loudly after each goal. The referee car scored a goal that was credited to LBTV. Winning team members were: Robert Rice (Chevy Chevelle), Jim Cook (Buick) and Robbie Salcido (Oldsmobile). They all scored but Rice's orange No. 7 was the leading scorer. The LBTV team members were cameramen/announcers Tommy Mason and Jeffrey Best, plus Tommy's girlfriend Shayna Zins.
SKID PLATE CARS: A field of 29, including three females, raced four-cylinder cars on the third-mile in the usual counter-clockwise direction. Cars started from the grid fully inverted with faster qualifiers at the back. Cars that did not participate in the 4:00 pm group practice/qualifying session started at the back. The winner completed 20 laps in 12:42.634 (31.438 mph). There was a brief caution flag on lap 3 so the safety car could push a stilled car from turn three to the infield. Two-time 2014 SPC winner Andrew Brittain started second and led the first nine laps. On lap 10 his car was hit and spun in turn one, dropping him to sixth. Robbie Salcido, from the back, led lap 10. Ninth starter Jim Smith took second on lap 3 and led laps 11-28.
Fast timer Sean Brennan traded P. 3 several times with Gary Scheuerell from laps 15-18. Brennan's No. 33 1992 Acura Integra, with 215,000+ miles on the odometer, took second from Salcido on lap 18 at the starting line. Brennan won his fourth SPC feature by a full straight-away (6.867 seconds). He tied James Altman and Daryl Scoggins for most SPC main event wins after 30 SPC races at IS. They both won their fourth SPC main in 2011. Smith passed Salcido on the last lap and beat him by 2.671 seconds. Past SPC feature winners Scheuerell, Todd Browne and Robert Rice finished fourth through sixth. They all completed 20 laps. The next four finishers completed 19 laps; 24 of 29 starters were racing at the conclusion.
Brennan, 24, is the son of past IS super truck racer Paul Brennan. The Yorba Linda resident's winning average speed was 31.438 mph. He recorded the fastest race lap of 29.143 (41.135 mph). “I looked down at my speedometer and was hitting 49-50 mph at the end of the straights,” he stated in the pits as he showed his trophy. He earned another $300 and is the most successful SPC entrant still competing in the fan-favorite class started by Robert Rice in 2009. Brennan set a new track record in late afternoon group practice/qualifying laps. His 28.684 (41.793 mph) lap broke the old record of 29.109 (41.183 mph) that he set on June 21, 2014.
COMPACT CAR DEMO DERBY: Nine compact cars participated in a demolition derby on the watered infield. One red flag interrupted the action as track firemen extinguished an engine fire on Dan Pachella's car. Adam Ditto outlasted Kenny Soysvrt and Shayla Zins for the victory.
TRAILER RACE: Nine cars started the 14-minute event at`10:00 pm. They towed trailers containing various cargo—large tires, boats, house trailers, and even an old battered compact car. The object was to knock off trailer contents or trailers as they raced around the soon littered third-mile oval. After the checkered flag, spectators were asked to determine the winner based on effort and showmanship.
The most serious-looking crash produced a red flag on lap 4. Keith Johns lost his trailer after a hit by the No. 98 large van marked “Newport Beach Police”. Johns tried to retaliate and drove across the infield directly at the No. 98. Johns' torpedo move missed and he slammed his Olds Cutlass head-on into the first turn crash-wall at 50 mph and stopped abruptly. The red flag flew immediately as concern mounted. He soon climbed from the car and rushed to the pits waving to fans. Later he came onto the track and retrieved the crossbones flag he had mounted on his detached trailer with the battered old car that was in the turn four infield. He escaped serious injury.
Robert Rice's Chevy El Camino led almost every lap (20+) and kept his boat on the trailer to the conclusion. However, his car finished immobile atop the empty trailer of Jeffrey Best on the backstretch. The top four cars stopped with their front bumpers against the front straight crash-wall. The track announcer as usual asked spectators to select the winner. Their cheers and applause resulted in the first IS victory for LBTV's J. Best. Rice shook his hand as runner-up. Rick Barkat and Cheryl Hyland placed third and fourth.
NOTES: The 2014 Night of Destruction 1 on May 17 attracted 5,120 spectators. Word traveled and round 2 filled the 6,500 seat main grandstand with more watching from the suites and first turn grandstand. You knew the crowd was different with many first-timers based on their frequent cheering and applause. Spectators also bounced two plastic beach-balls in the grandstand ala fans at Dodgers Stadium. Spectators even did the wave section by section from west to east and turn four end back to the turn one end. Night of Destruction 3 will conclude the 2014 Irwindale season on Saturday, November 1.
The current “ice water bucket challenge” to benefit ALS-disease research is sweeping the country via personal challenges. Individual and mass media cover the phenomenon daily. It came to Irwindale Speedway Saturday. Prior to the compact car demo derby, the IS water truck watered the infield as usual to reduce traction for the demo drivers. Spectators and racers were invited to come to the front straightaway and stand in a long-line on the track between the third and half-mile tracks. They made a financial donation of their choice to an ALS Association member to be part of the historic IS water bucket challenge. The track's water truck then moved from west to east spraying the large group of an estimated 250 people with water. It then returned from east to west and sprayed the willing participants again.
It is believed to be the largest ALS water challenge ever conducted in LA County if not the nation. Lug Nut Junior, the costumed IS track mascot, was pictured in a photo in the IS printed program as he was drenched by ice water dumped on him from the starters stand. A low-flying radio-controlled drone GoPro video recorded the drenching from the safety of the half-mile as the operator walked along and recorded the group ALS water challenge for posterity.
During the usual on-track, front straight drivers autograph session for fans from 5:45 to 6:30 pm, a marriage proposal took place via the IS portable microphone of Jeffrey Best. IS track fire crewman Mike Hancock asked IS chief timer/scorer Sarah Atkinson to marry him. The elder daughter of IS Racing Director Mike Atkinson was completely surprised. She said yes. No wedding date has been set at this time.