IRWINDALE'S “NIGHT OF DESTRUCTION V” -- By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale CA., Dec. 5 – Irwindale Speedway staged its fan-popular Lucas Oil Racing TV “Night of Destruction V” presented by Pick Your Part Saturday. A near capacity crowd of 6,400, including many families with children under age ten, attended. Youngsters love the smash and run type events presented by track lease-holding 211 Entertainment LLC. The organization, under the name Irwindale Event Center, completed its successful fourth season operating the 63-acre site. It has operated the quarter-mile drag-strip and racing school since 2012 and also oval track racing for the last three years. IEC presented an increasing total of oval races each season and in 2015 booked 20 Saturday night races and experienced two rain-outs.
Seven scheduled events Saturday included the following: an “Enduro Race” for four-cylinder cars; an officials race; PYP auto soccer in the infield; PYP jet-powered pickup truck demo run; Seidner's Collision Centers skid plate cars race; PYP demolition derby, and an increasingly zany trailer race with an IS new track record 21 competitors on track.
ENDURO: Steven Belling won the fourth Enduro this season and became the third different winner Instead of 30 laps, the event was 40 laps with a brief break after 20 laps to change to a relief driver if so desired. Eight of a season-high 35 entries shared driving duties. With 33 cars on the starting grid, the field used a standing start and ran counter-clockwise as usual. The course was the third-mile oval with a fifth left/right turn in the infield marked by K-rails on each side. Cars had to swing wide leaving the third-mile fourth corner and funnel onto the half-mile between K-rails on the inside and outside. That brought racing action closer to fans in the main grandstand.
The race had three leaders and five lead changes. Tony Cummings led the first six laps from pole position. Third starter Belling, from Rialto, led laps 7-10. The 11th starting No.4 co-driven by Danny and Jim S. led laps 11-25 in constant traffic. Belling led lap 26 at start/finish, but the No. 4 led laps 27-35 before losing four laps during a multi-car crash. Belling led laps 36-40 and won by one length (0.302) over closing Robert Rice, the 22nd starter in a Honda Accord.
James Bolinas placed third, 2.923 seconds in back of the winner. Travis Mooney (-3.281) finished fourth. Mike Lindquist, Kim Hall and Pat Miller completed the top seven and logged 40 laps. The race took 49 minutes, including two red flags to remove stalled cars blocking K-rail lined turns, and averaged 24.469 mph. Twenty-one of 33 starters finished.
The officials race had four entrants, including IS Racing Director Mike Atkinson. His IS black and white ex-“cop car” used to clear stalled cars did not start. Three drivers raced the enduro course in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions during a ten-lap contest for bragging rights. Mario Tomasso won over Tony Ricketts and Tanner Walker.
The second PYP auto soccer match at IS this season again matched three cars from Pick Your Part and three cars from Low Budget TV. A round former propane tank painted to resemble a soccer ball served as the soccer “ball”; two K-rails at each end of the infield served as goals. PYP won the March 28 match over LBTV 4-1. This time PYP scored a 5-0 shutout. All three players scored goals. Two PYP shots were wide left and hit the third turn crash-wall. Winning team members were veterans Robert Rice and Robbie Salcido and auto soccer rookie James Bolinas. LBTV players were Jeffrey Best, Shayla Zins and Matt Feron. The PYP jet pickup then appeared on the half-mile front straight, but ignition failed and canceled the planned demo run.
SKID PLATE CARS: There were 33 entries for the SPC 20-lap race. Cars from the Enduro had their rubber tires replaced with metal skid plated on both back wheels; 27 cars staged on the third-mile. The non-stop race had three race leaders—pole starter Travis Mooney for two laps and third starter Tony Cummings from laps 3-11. Then 23rd starter Mike Di Gregorio, from Temple City, led laps 12-20 in a Honda Accord. He won by 24.143 seconds over his brother-in-law Sean Brennan, from Yorba Linda. Both men entered the race tied at eight SPC feature victories. Di Gregorio's record ninth SPC triumph put him alone on top of the victory column list of winners after 43 such races since the inaugural event in 2009.
Robbie Salcido (-28.850 seconds), Tony Cummings (-39.945) and Steven Belling (-45.702) finished third through fifth and all completed 20 laps. Robert Rice (lapped on the final lap), Pat Miller, Ken Palmer, Austin Lee and Jeffrey Best completed the top ten as 21 of 27 starters finished. Di Gregorio's winning time and speed were 15:16.889 (39.272 mph). The winner ran the fastest race lap of 39.282 (45.823 mph). There were seven SPC races this season. Di Gregorio won six; Brennan won the other.
A 12-car demolition derby for four-cylinder cars used a tire-marked, watered section of the infield near the finish line on the half-mile. After seven minutes of smashing and bashing, Adam Ditto was declared the winner over Jonathan De Stefano and third place Shayla Zins. It was Ditto's second demo derby victory in four events at IS this season.
TRAILERS: The concluding event, appropriately, was the litter-producing trailer race with an IS new track record 21 competitors. Cars and light trucks with metal trailers towed various cargo, such as boats, jet-skis, and wood. Other drivers towed small house trailers. The object was to finish 20 laps with trailer and cargo intact. Drivers sought to separate competitors trailers and cargo so they would not win. Drivers gained fan-support by smashing through separated boats and trailers lying on the track. Entertainment value scored points with cheering, clapping and laughing fans in the grandstand.
Competitors raced in a counter-clockwise direction on the third-mile oval. They used a standing start at 9:54 pm after fans counted down from ten. Robert Organ's pickup truck led the first two laps before Adam Ditto's 15th starting sedan stormed past him and led to the conclusion. On lap 2 the No. 187 car ran onto the No. 53 empty trailer and became stuck as both cars hit the turn one wall. On lap 5 Ditto's leading car torpedoed through the separated boat of the No. 00 entry. It was cast adrift by a hit and was stopped diagonally at the starting line. Fans roared and applauded.
Three cars were racing on the front straight and an impact sent a rowboat airborne above the three cars in a sensational bit of action. On lap 8 Robert Rice's large sedan hit a separated boat and with part of the boat stuck under his car he could not turn left. He hit the turn one wall, ending his run to the front. On lap 13 the Ditto and Jeffrey Best empty trailers became hooked together. The two drivers rode around the track at speed with Ditto facing forward and Best facing backward toward oncoming cars.
Sparks trailed for a lap under Cheryl Hyland's station wagon. Then her small engine fire caused a brief red flag at 10:06 pm. Two minutes later the checkered flag waved with no cars able to continue. Scoring called Ditto, Best and Salcido the top three finishers officially. It was the sixth trailer race of 2015. Ditto joined Rice as two-time winners of the event this season.
The 2016 IS season opening event will another Night of Destruction event with the same events as usual. It will have a two-hour earlier starting time during winter. Gates will open at 2:00, the on-track autograph session will begin at 3:45 and the first race will start at 5:00 pm.
The Irwindale Speedway/Irwindale Drag-strip 2015 season championship awards banquet will be held Saturday, January 30 at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel on Huntington Drive in Monrovia. Tickets will be available in January at the track office as usual.