HAUNTED NIGHT of DESTRUCTION AT IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., Oct. 29 – Irwindale Speedway staged a Saturday pre-Halloween “Haunted Night of Destruction” presented by LKQ-Pick Your Part (self-service auto parts). The annual Halloween celebration for motor-sports fans attracted about 6,000 persons, including numerous costumed youngsters. They collected candy from racers during the 45-minute drivers autograph session on the front straight, where judging of Halloween costumes for prizes also took place. On track races included the enduro sedans championship final round 35-lap race for drivers of stock and sport division four-cylinder sedans. It was the third season the enduro sedans have raced for IS championships. A 25-lap Figure 8 race and a 15-lap skid plate race followed. Concluding events were a decorated trailer race of 25+ unscored laps and the usual ten-minute aerial fireworks that concluded minutes before 10:00 pm.
TUCKER TIRE ENDURO 35: Eighteen cars (eight stock and ten equipped with an OHC for added horsepower) competed. Robert Rice entered the race eight points ahead of his friend Robbie Salcido. Announcers told the crowd Rice had to beat Salcido by two positions. Rice started sixth and finished 34 of 35 laps in sixth overall, but first in the stock class. He won his seventh 2022 main and 74th in all divisions. He ranks second on the list of main event winning drivers during 23 years of oval track racing at the speedway. Salcido, a seven feature winner, finished the 18-car race in 12thposition, down two laps, ending his bid for his first IS track title. Rice scored 824 points to 808 for Salcido. It was the fourth IS championship for Rice. He won the enduro stock championships in 2019 through 2021 driving the same orange No. 7 Honda Accord.
Ian Rotundo (red No. 4 2001 Acura Integra) had to finish four positions better than rival Bobby Ozman’s white No. 18 1998 Acura Integra). Rotundo finished second overall and concluded with 828 points to 802 for Ozman, who hit the first turn wall on lap 5 while running fourth and dropped out of the race with right front damage. It was Rotundo’s second IS championship. He won the initial championship in 2019; Ozman won the sport class championship in 2020-21.Rotundo won seven mains this year and Ozman won eight. There were 13 race dates and four had two main events for a total of 17 races. Three drivers won in the stock class and four in the sport class. Eighteen stock class drivers and 11 in the sport class earned points.
Saturday’s 35-lap race used the five-turn R-oval course. Robert Walks started second and led six laps. Rotundo started ninth and led laps 7-22; fastest qualifier Rodney Argo led laps 23-35. The former winning 410 ci sprint car driver from Gardena started last in his No 9 1999 Honda Prelude, which was the first dropout in the last race (October 8) because “of a broken ball joint.” This week Argo passed leader Rotundo in traffic and opened a straightaway lead in a 15-minute race with one caution flag on lap 6. Argo won his second main of the season by 5.082 seconds over 2022 season champion Rotundo. Sport class drivers Mike McIntyre, Rick Conti, and Jason Woolcott followed Rotundo. Rice placed sixth overall and first among the eight stock class drivers as 15 of 18 starters reached the checkered flag.
In afternoon time trials Argo almost broke his own one lap track record with a lap of 18.326 on the five-turn R-oval. He set the existing record of 18.313 in July, 2018. Argo’s victory was his 37th at IS, which moved him into sole possession of tenth place on the list of Irwindale Speedway’s more than 600 feature winners. IS management announced that all 2022 IS track and drag racing champions will be honored Sunday afternoon, November 13 during the Champions Award Ceremony at 4:45 pm. It will take place at tables placed under the main grandstand as last year. RSVPs to the track are requested by Monday, November 7 so enough food and beverages will be available.
ENDURO FIGURE 8: Fourteen of 17 entrants were able to start the 25-lap Figure 8 race and 12 finished the ten minute, all-green flag event. Rick Conti (No. 88 1999 Acura Integra) started last and led laps 17-25 in recording his 2.018 second victory over early leader Jason Woolcott (laps 3-5 and 10-16). P. 3 Joe Labrosciano led laps 6-9 and was the only other lead lap driver. He trailed the winner by 2.766 seconds. Robert Rice and AMA speedway bike racer Bruce Marteney ran 24 laps and placed fourth and fifth respectively. Tony Price led the first two laps. It was Conti’s first Figure 8 triumph of the season. He became the fifth different winner in five races.
SKID PLATE CARS 15: Sixteen drivers donned metal skid plates on the rear axle instead of rubber tires, which made driving straight on the track an adventure and acquired skill for participants. They raced 15 laps on the third-mile oval. Mike McIntyre led four laps from pole position. Then past SPC multi-winner Austin Lee, from Ontario, led laps 5-15. He beat closing Robbie Salcido’s No. 16 Honda Accord by 0.480 in an all-green light 8:08.561 event. Third place Robert Rice was the only other lead lap driver as 11 of 16 starters finished. It was Lee’s second consecutive SPC victory in the fifth SPC race of the 2022 season.
Next on the schedule was an on-track wedding at the start/finish line of the half-mile. Two IS racing fans wanted to tie the knot at the track and co-promoter Tim Huddleston obliged them. The bride wore a white dress before rushing back into the grandstand with the groom for the rest of the N of D events. They then watched the burn-down of an old car in the infield by flaming thrusts from the J-10 aircraft jet engine mounted on the back of a red pickup truck named “Inferno”.
As track workers set up trailers and old cars on the third-mile front straight the next event took place. A large SWAT team or military-type vehicle from Movie Hardware, Inc. that was used in a Mad Max-type movie performed. It smashed old cars and trailers in the infield while being chased by the IS black & white ex-Sheriff’s patrol car with red lights flashing.
The trailer race had six entrants in cars or pickup trucks towing decorated trailers. Prior to the race spectators vocally voted the No. 3 black & white checkered pickup truck of Cody Pearlstein the best decorated trailer. It had a realistic-looking wooden “haunted house” erected on the trailer. Second place went to the No. 20 yellow pickup truck driven by Bailey Maywald, whose cemetery decore for Halloween featured wooden headstone replicas in a graveyard setting on the towed trailer.
The race started two abreast on the watered third-mile oval, Drivers soon demolished small mobile homes and other expendable items in their paths. That included the contents of fellow competitors’ trailers. After 25 minutes of mayhem the checkered flag waved and entrants drove to the half-mile crash-wall for the verdict of spectators. Applause and cheers from the grandstand determined the top three drivers, “based on entertainment value they provided”. The winner was Cody Pearlstein, runner-up was Robbie Salcido, and third went to Robert Rice, a frequent trailer race winner in the past.
Aerial fireworks shot from behind the backstretch billboards from 10:48 to 10:58 pm concluded the fan-popular event. The next IS oval track event will be Saturday, November 12. It is the fourth and final Spears Mfg SRL touring series popular triple-header at IS this year. Champions will be determined in the Spears super late model, pro late model and modified divisions.