IRWINDALE “NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION 3” ATTRACTS 6,740 – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Nov. 1 – The third and final 2014 Pick Your Part “ Night of Destruction 3” Saturday attracted the largest crowd of the oval track racing season. Entertaining family fun, smashing and bashing, and motorized mayhem lured a crowd of 6,740 persons, who filled the main grandstand on a cool night. “Nights of Destruction 1 and 2” on May 17 and August 30 had attendance marks of 5,120 and 6,500+ respectively.
Grand Marshal Tommy Lasorda, of the Los Angeles Dodgers, welcomed spectators prior to the National Anthem via the infield microphone. He then joined track CEO/President Jim Cohan in his suite. Another special guest was Indianapolis 500 veteran Davey Hamilton, who donned his racing uniform and helmet and drove one of three winged 360 cu. in. sprint cars in a rapid, ten-lap exhibition race on the half-mile. As head of the new sanctioning group King of the Wing, Hamilton said he has 27 entrants, including his father Kenny and son Davey, Jr., for the series first-ever winged sprint car race at IS in three weeks.
On Saturday, November 22 IS will host the second of three races for the 360 cu. in. sprint cars. Madera Speedway, a third-mile, will be the site Friday night, November 21. The two-year old Kern Country Raceway Park half-mile will be the third round on Sunday afternoon, November 23. Hamilton said he hopes to expand his winged 360 sprint car series next season. During the second hot lap session at 4:15 pm Fresno-based Tim Skoglund, in the Western Racing No. 60, ran a fastest lap of 14.990 (120.080 mph) on his 11th lap. Cody Gerhardt, of Madera, drove the Western Racing No. 40 and Hamilton drove the Hamilton No. 98. A fourth sprint car blew its engine during the 3:15 practice and did not return for the exhibition race at 7:30.
A ten-lap exhibition race (second race of the night) started the three winged sprint cars and amazed spectators with the speed and close wheel-to-wheel passing. Gerhardt led laps 1-3, 6-8 and 10 and won by a foot over Hamilton, the leader of laps 4-5 and 9. Gerhardt trailed the dueling leaders by four seconds. The fastest lap was a 16.070 in their exhibition run. Hamilton said he expects the fastest qualifying and racing times will exceed 125 mph on November 22 when cars are set-up properly for the progressively banked IS half-mile.
The fastest lap ever turned at IS during time trails was 15.154 (118.781 mph) by Troy Regier in his No. 10 super-modified on April 1, 2000. The one-lap USAC 360 non-wing sprint car track record is16.139 (111.531 mph) by Tanner Swanson on November 25, 2010. Hamilton said he expects the fastest qualifier at IS on November 22 to lower the IS fastest lap record to 14.6 or 14.7. See FOOTNOTE at end of this story for more information about the King of the Wing Series.
OPEN COMP 25: The 17th week of IS oval track competition this season started with an open competition 25-lap feature on the third-mile oval. The field of seven had a late model, a modified, two Southwest Tour Trucks, and three classic stock cars. Fastest qualifier Ken Michaelian started the modified from pole position and led every lap in his first race aboard a modified. Richie Altman started and finished second (3.001 seconds back) in his Chevy late model. Jeff Williams and 2013-14 track super stock champion Zack Green finished third and fourth in trucks owned by Williams. The first four drivers ran all 25 laps. Jerry Toporek placed fifth in a stock car. Classic stock cars driven by Harry Michaelian, father of the winner, and Bridgette Shaw finished sixth and seventh.
ENDURO: The third main of the nine features evening was a 34-car, 30-lap compact car enduro on a six-turn, “r-oval” course. It utilized the third-mile with a jog into the infield on the backstretch. After lap 15 an “all-stop” red flag had all cars stop on the front straight and facilitated the switch to co-drivers in each car. Some drivers swapped rides with friends. Jim and Bud Smith won their second enduro this season out of three enduros. Jim Smith partnered with Gary Scheuerell to also win the other 2014 enduro. This week three other teams finished on the lead lap. Runners-up Dean and Berek Ekas were 4.199 seconds back. Steven Belling and Tony Cummings co-drove to third place, 21-seconds off the lead. Kevin Zanit and Alex Martinez placed fourth, 22 seconds from the winning car. Dusty Morgan and Bo Tucker, of Tucker Tire in Covina, finished fifth, one lap down with 26 cars racing at the finish. The 13-minute event had one brief red flag to remove a stalled car and averaged 44.052 mph.
AUTO SOCCER: Next was a PYP auto soccer match between teams representing Pick Your Part and Low Budget TV. Each side had three cars that pushed a 450-pound, round empty propane tank painted to resemble a soccer ball towards K-rail goals. The IS surplus police patrol car served as the “referee car” and put the ball in play. PYP won the 12-minute match 5-1. Robert Rice (car 7) scored all five goals for the PYP team. It won both matches this year. Jim Cook (car 4) and Robbie Salcido (car 6) also drove for the victorious PYP team. Ken Palmer, Tommy Mason and Jeffrey Best drove for LBTV.
Seidner Collision Centers SKID PLATE CAR drivers ran their ninth 20-lap main event of 2014. Veteran Austin Lee won his first SPC main and became the 17th different winner after 33 SPC events at IS since 2009. He started 30th in a 33-car field and passed the most cars to win a SPC feature. His winning time and speed were 13:04.146 (30.576 mph) on the “r-oval” six-turn course. P 2-5 drivers also finished all 20 laps. SPC six-time winner Sean Brennan drove his Acura Integra from 32nd to second place, 9.437 seconds back. Three-time IS skid plate winner Mike DeGregorio drove his Honda to third place, 12 seconds off the lead. Past two-time SPC winner Todd Browne, a Jet Blue Airline pilot, placed fourth, (-14 seconds). Randy Kruse was fifth (-22 seconds). The race had five leaders. Lee led laps 17-20 after he passed lap 11-16 leader DeGregorio in traffic. Thirty cars finished the all-green flag race.
CHAIN RACE: Two teams raced a six-lap, Figure 8 chain race won by Robert Rice and his back car driver Billy A. The front car driver controlled steering and the accelerator while the back car driver controlled braking. IS track employees Quevette King and Sarah Atkinson trailed the winning team by a straightaway.
SKID PLATE FIGURE 8: Next was a 10-lap Figure 8 race for skid plate cars with 12 starters. Five drivers led the race before Neil Himes, from Crestline, took command on lap 8 and won by 11-seconds over Steven Belling. Jim Smith was 26 seconds in back of the winner. Two drivers completed nine laps. The all-green, seven-minute race averaged 32.284 mph.
COMPACT CAR DEMO DERBY: The track water truck wet the infield battleground for a 12-car demo derby. Steve Dien used his worn-out No. 46 SPC to win an 18-minute event that had four cars still moving at the checkered flag. Applause and cheers from grandstand spectators determined the winner as usual. In a close vote, Dien won over runner-up Larry Tannas and Sheryl Zins.
TRAILER RACE: The final event of the busy evening was a 15-lap trailer race on the “r-oval” course. A season-high 14 vehicles, towing boats or trailers with cargo, started the race. The 13-minute contest had Robert Organ, driving a Lincoln Town Car with a trailer containing a boat, lead 13 laps, before he lost his boat. Then his car became disabled. Adam Ditto's aged Utility Body service truck lost its boat after a collision but led lap 14-15. He crossed the finish line at 10:29 pm as the only driver with at least a trailer attached to the back bumper. Only three of 12 starters finished. Grandstand spectators again determined the winner by their applause and cheers. Glendora resident Cheryl Hyland, wearing a tutu costume for Halloween, won for the first time. Her house trailer had been long gone after a direct hit as drivers sought to smash competitors trailers and cargo. The third-mile track was littered with debris afterward. Spectators departed the still crowded grandstand smiling and talking about the wild events and carnage they had witnessed. Track management was thrilled by the turnout. It is likely there will be four “Night of Destruction” events on the IS 2015 schedule.
FOOTNOTE; The 2014 King of the Wing circuit has booked six events during its inaugural season. It conducted three races in the Midwest during the July 4 weekend.. On July 2 at Toledo (OH) Speedway Jo Jo Helberg, from Rohnert Park, California, won the feature. Helberg ('Beast/Mopar No. 7) also won on July 4 at the high-banked Winchester Speedway in Indiana. On July 5 at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois, Florida resident Troy DeCaire (No. 22A) won the main event. Promoter Hamilton clustered the California races for November 21-23 when racing seasons elsewhere had concluded.
King of the Wing purses: Main events pay $3,000 to win, with $2,500, $2,000, $1,500 and $1,000 for P. 2 through P.5. P 15-24 pay $750 and P. 25 and lower receive $500. All main events are 40 laps. Both 360 cu. in. and 410 cu. in. engines are eligible. However, 410 engines must use a 1 7/8” restrictor plate that is supplied at no charge. Tests by driver David Steele in Florida proved the 360 and 410 restricted engines were competitive.
Champions: The 2014 KotW Series will recognize three point champions. The first will be from the three mid-western races already completed. The top three in driver points are: 1-Helberg-190; 2-DeCaire-189; 3-Davey Hamilton, Jr.-158. The second champion will be the highest point earner during the three California races in November. The West Coast three race series will pay that champion a $2,500 bonus. The overall KotW 2014 champion will be the highest point earner in all six 2014 KotW races. The overall champion will receive a $5,000 bonus.
Hamilton is soliciting corporate and individual lap sponsors at $100 per lap. Lap money will be awarded to the top three drivers on each sponsored lap at $50 to P. 1, $30 to P. 5, and $20 to P. 10. Idaho native Hamilton, who now resides in Indiana, finished third this year in a major super-modified race at the five-eighths mile Oswego (NY) Speedway on the Labor Day weekend. His stated goal for his paved tracks KotW circuit is to be similar to the World of Outlaws national 410 dirt track circuit. He wants to expand to 12 races in 2015 with three events in Florida, three in the Midwest, three in the Northwest, and three in California. The KotW website is: www.KingoftheWing.net.
An advance entry roster for the three November races lists drivers from seven states—CA. FL. ID., IN. MI. OH, WI and two from Canada (Ron and Richie Larson). Other names on the list include three generations of Hamiltons (Kenny, Davey and high school senior Davey, Jr.), Gerhardt, Skoglund, Helberg, Aaron Pierce, Eric Humphries, Tim Barber, David Byrne, Kevin Feeney, Jason Blonde, Bryan Warf, Johnny Giesler, Sierra Jackson, Kyle Edwards, Garrett Green, Anthony Simone and So Cal's 2011 IS truck champion Connor Cantrell.