IRWINDALE “NIGHT of DESTRUCTION II” – By Tim Kennedy
IRWINDALE “NIGHT of DESTRUCTION II” – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Apr. 28 – Irwindale Speedway and LKQ Pick Your Part presented the third “Night of Destruction” of 2018 Saturday. An almost capacity crowd near 6,000 fans of unique motor- sports events came to see nine events between 7:00 and 10:20 pm. An added attraction was the return to IS of daredevil “Dr. Danger”, who performed two dangerous stunts (events three and six) in the infield. A MAVTV Network video crew taped all events for telecast at a future date this year.
Two races of 30-laps for super stocks and four-cylinder compact cars preceded Dr. Danger stunts. The helmeted and flame retarding fire-suit clad Dr. Danger exploded an old sedan with him seated in the front seat. He emerged after the explosion on fire and ran to a waiting fireman who extinguished the fire. Other firemen quelled the blazing car after a large fireball amazed spectators.
Then four cylinder compact “enduro” sedans raced in a 20-lap Figure 8 race and a 20-lap skid plate cars feature. Between those events, also contested on the third-mile, six new pickup trucks performed synchronized donuts and smoked tires on the front straight and in the infield.
The second Dr. Danger stunt also used the infield. He wanted to redeem his less than perfect launch up a ramp and over five stacked old cars at IS last year. This time he launched his older black and white IS ex-police patrol car up and over a ramp as bombs exploded simultaneously. His car plowed through four stacked cars and landed on its side nearby. The door was stuck initially, but he soon emerged unhurt and told spectators that he had redeemed himself for his 2017 jump.
The final two events took place on watered pavement. Four old enduro cars staged a compact car demolition derby. They bashed each other for five minutes in a large tire marked arena before Chase Schmitt won his first IS event. Co-announcers Jeffrey Best and Tommy Mason donned helmets and fire suits and came down from their booth to drive two of the cars. Past DD winner Shayla Zins was in the other car.
The final event was the eagerly anticipated trailer race with 12 of 13 entrants participating on the third-mile oval. Five spectators from the grandstand were selected by IS staff to come up to the race control booth and act as judges. They were told laps completed did not matter and to reward the driver who put on the most entertaining show and recorded the best hits during the event. Showmanship was the main consideration.
To ensure ready targets for destruction, workers used forklifts to move four sacrificial, older mobile homes, parked at the fourth turn of the half-mile, to the front straight of the third-mile. As expected, trailer race drivers made quick hits and destroyed all four mobile homes to the delight of fans.
After 20+ laps of smashing row boats, jet skis, a towed mobile home, and miscellaneous cargo on the trailers, the third-mile was littered with debris. Onlookers agreed, it was one of the best ever trailer races in track history. At mid-race the Chevy El Camino tow car of frequent winner/”Master of Mayhem” Robert Rice was stuck inside the mobile home towed by entrant No. 71 Ray Reyes. Rice’s car was completely out of sight. Both Rice and Reyes were unable to continue.
A red flag at lap 14 .stopped action so a small fire in one tow vehicle could be extinguished. Race leaders included Robbie Salcido, in a sedan towing a trailered boat, for six laps. Then frequent entrant Cheryl Hyland, in her usual No. 176 pink station wagon towing a trailer containing jet skis, led the 18-minute contest from lap 7 until the checkered flag. More than 20 laps were run. Only Hyland and Salcido were still circling the track and making contact with each other.
Judges voted Hyland the winner. She also won a trailer race last season. Salcido placed second. Steve Cook earned major “points” for entertainment value during the first half of the race. Cook smashed through three of the four parked mobile homes, but his black No. 99 sedan became stuck in one of them. He walked across the track and waved to fans under a red flag to extinguish a small engine fire. Appreciative judges awarded him third place.
SUPER STOCKS 30: Nine drivers qualified and raced 30 laps on the third-mile oval. Chevy SS driver Rich De Long III set a new track record of 16.461 (72.8276 mph) during 4:30 PM time trials. He broke Steve Smith’s 16.524 record from last August. Darren Cheek, the 2013 Irwindale Race Trucks track champion, ended his four year retirement. He raced his No. 62 Chevy Camaro from second position to lead the first 12 laps. FQ De Long III made an inside pass in turn four and took the lead for ten laps. Cheek retook the point via an inside pass entering turn one on lap 23. He extended his lead to half a straight and won by 3.122 seconds over De Long III.
Jason Young, driving a Camaro he purchased in Roseville last July, took second place from De Long III on lap 25. He slowed suddenly on the final lap and stopped on the half-mile backstretch with an electrical problem. Later he said, “a $10.00 solenoid failed.” Pole starter Jason De Long, from Castaic, finished third in his Chevy SS. P. 4 Matthew Sampson’s Camaro was the last car on the lead lap. Newcomer Jeff Watson’s Camaro and Harry Michaelian’s 1974 Dodge Dart completed 29 laps in the 11-minute race that had one brief caution flag after a single car spin.
ENDURO 30: Fastest qualifier Daniel Hudson, 29, from Garden Grove, started fourth in a 28-car field of four-cylinder sedans. The IS newcomer this season ran l7.872 (67.077 mph) in his 1998 Acura Integra to beat his own IS one-lap record set three weeks earlier. The course used the third mile oval to turn four and then jogged right following tire markers and across the half-mile starting line.
Bory Molina led lap 1 from the pole. Second starter Mike Hudson, 35, from Buena Park, led laps 2-5 in his Acura Integra but yielded the point to his brother on lap 6. He retained the lead to the lap 30 checkers and won by 4.141 seconds. Past winner Eddie Howell’s No. 81 Honda Accord finished second. Enduro eight-time IS winner/past 410 sprint car feature winner Rodney Argo, from Gardena, placed third. M. Hudson and James Bolinas were the last lead lap drivers. Nineteen of 28 starters finished the 19-minute race.
FIGURE 8 MAIN: There were 25 cars entered but only 15 started after various problems in the prior event. James Bolinas, from Torrance, started sixth and led the final 18 laps. IS promoters announced over the PA mic before the F8 race that if there was a collision at the infield intersection beers at all concession stands would cost $3.00 for 15-minutes after the F8 race. On lap 13 the lapped car of Troy Andersen hit the LR fender of P. 4 Dewitt Jones at the X crossing. Both cars continued non-stop but fans collected on the $3.00 beers offer. The all-green flag race took 7:57.986 and averaged 56.788 mph.
Robert Rice (-1.205 seconds) and Eddie Howell (-1.507) finished second and third. D. Jones (-7.481) and Montclair resident Joe Labrosciano (-10.131) were the final lead lap drivers. Eleven of 15 starters were still racing at the finish.
SKID PLATE 20: There were 26 enduro sedans entered in the skid plate race. Only 18 cars started after racing in earlier events disabled some cars. Fastest qualifier Mike Di Gregorio, from Menifee, started 16th and advanced rapidly to lead all but the first lap. Skid platers, as did drivers in the enduro 30, used the same jog from the third mile fourth turn onto the half-mile following tire markers across the start/finish line and back to the third-mile first corner.
Di Gregorio won his third skid plate race of 2018 in his reliable black No. 18 that he has raced since 2013. He has won a record 18 of the 61 skid plate races held at IS since 2009. All of his wins came in the same 1995 Honda Accord. He has four skid plate victories more than the second most proficient skid plate driver, Sean Brennan, his brother-in-law. Brennan was not present Saturday.
Runner-up Robbie Salcido also ran all 20 laps, but he trailed by 31 seconds. Winner Di Gregorio was at his back bumper when the checkered flag waved. The all-green flag race took 11:27.632 and the winner averaged 52.354 mph. Thirteen of 18 starters finished. Austin Lee, Tony Cummings, Robert Rice and Steven Belling followed and completed 19 laps. Females Ashley Rice and Keira Bolinas logged 18 laps for P. 7-8.
NASCAR oval track racing will resume at IS on Saturday, May 26. Thursday nights each week are active for fans at the Irwindale Drag-strip and the new BOX area for tire-scorching donuts in an enclosed section with K-rails near the drag-strip.