Irwindale, CA., Oct. 27 – It was “Noche de Destruccion” Saturday at Irwindale Speedway with two truck racing series on the half-mile, enduro sedans, Figure 8, motor-home jump, demolition events, and the always exciting trailer race finale. Three King of the Wing 410-winged sprint cars ran two demonstration heat races to acquainted spectators with those cars (the fastest ever to compete on the IS half-mile). About 25 cars will race in a full program of qualifying, heat races and 40-lap KotW feature point race for the traveling series at IS Saturday, November 3.
The annual Halloween costume contest for kids, candy for trick or treaters of all ages took place during the driver autograph session just inside the pit entrance gate from the main concourse. The festive pre-Halloween event, presented by LKQ Pick Your Part, attracted a near-capacity crowd of about 6,000 persons to the entertaining evening, both on and off the track.
Adults crowded around a full-size boxing/wrestling ring in the Chalet Village for the first time. They watched for an hour prior to the 7:00 pm start of racing as four masked Hispanic wrestlers from EWF staged their slam-bang show. A referee kept order during tag team wrestling matches. There also was a folklorico ballet performance near the grandstand. A ten-minute aerial fireworks show launched from beyond the backstretch concluded the evening at 10:35 pm.
Two eight-lap demo heat races had the three-car Bergener team from Salt Lake City on track. They captivated attention by turning laps of 110 to 113.257 mph laps. Kyle Bergener won both heats. They expect 25 or more cars to race November 3 and IS and Sunday, November 4 at the half-mile Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield. A KotW sprint car set the all-time IS one-lap track record of 13.791 (130.520 mph) during qualifying for their 2014 inaugural race in Irwindale.
Other events this week were 30-lap truck main events on the half-mile, a 30-lap enduro race on the six-turn “roval” course through the infield, a 25-lap Figure 8 race for enduro sedans, a 20-lap skid plate cars event and a 25+ lap trailer race with 15 entrants bent on fan-exciting mayhem. The IS dark blue Ford Mustang 5.0 GT from Sunrise Ford as usual paced all events.
Robert Rice rolled his all-orange PYP motor-home unintentionally at the third-mile fourth turn while preparing for his ramp jump. He was unhurt and and crawled out to watch a Jan’s Towing truck pull the motor-home back onto four wheels. Then Rice drove it up a dirt ramp in the infield and flew onto two parked old motor-homes which collapsed under the Rice motor-home. He came back to run in the trailer race.
IRWINDALE TRUCK CHAMPION: Fastest qualifier Lucas McNeil started third in an eight-truck field and led all 30-laps in a double points season finale. He won by 3.197 seconds. The 25-year old from Saugus captured the 2018 Irwindale Race Truck Series championship by 90 points. He became the series sixth consecutive first-time IRT champion. He drove his own No. 78 Chevy S-10 and also races his own late model stock car at IS.
Ron Peterson, the series 2004-05 track champion, came out of semi-retirement and drove the No. 35 truck. He raced from third to second place on lap 28 with an inside pass entering turn three. He dropped 2017 IRT champion Dennis Arena to third place at the pay window. Nevertheless, Arena jumped from fourth to second in final points. Point leader Ryan Partridge, who was racing his NASCAR K & N West Ford Fusion in Bakersfield, dropped from first to third in final points. Partridge won seven of the 11 races this season and McNeil won three.
Kenny Smith, 72, the track’s 2018 spec late model champion, made his first IRT start this season and finished fourth, with Jacob McNeil fifth. The younger brother of the champion dropped from third to fourth in final points. Seven of eight starters finished the ten-minute race that had one yellow flag. A lap 16 collision in turn four between Nico Mongenel and Andrew Porter, grandson of fourth finisher Smith. They restarted at the back and finished sixth and seventh respectively.
SWT TRUCKS 30: The touring truck series also raced in its penultimate event of 2018 with ten trucks competing. Fastest qualifier/point leader Dustin Vandermooren, 31, from Cerritos, led the final 21 laps in his No. 71 Chevy Silverado. It was his second victory in three SWTT races at IS this season. He now has five career SWTT triumphs, including two last year. The series also races at other speedways in southwestern states. The series final race will be at IS December 1 on “N of D VII”.
Neil Conrad, a retired fire department captain, started and finished second in his Silverado. He took second on lap 17 from laps 2-8 race leader Zack St. Onge, 16, who settled for third. Derek Robertson and Steve Reeves completed the top five and also ran 30 laps. Eight of ten starters finished with newcomer Ryn Seya, 47, from Kobe, Japan, last with 29 laps. He has raced a BMW in the World Rally Cup and in sports car events at Nurburgring, Germany in a Peugeot.
ENDURO 30: Four-cylinder enduro sedans raced 30-laps on the third-mile with tire-marked detours into the backstretch infield and onto the half-mile start/finish line, making the course a six-turn roval. The 24-car field used a fully-inverted starting lineup with the fastest qualifiers at the back to provide maximum passing. Winner Eddie Howell, from Carson, started 20th in a Honda Accord and led the final 24 laps.
Fast timer/2018 IS series point leader Daniel Hudson came from from 22nd starting slot to finish a closing second, 5.211 seconds behind now one-time 2018 winner Howell. Hudson has won seven of the 11 enduro races in his No. 17 Acura Integra this season, his first at IS. Four drivers completed 30 laps with 20 of 24 starters racing at the finish. Bobby Ozman and James Bolinas finished third and fourth. The all-green light race took 12-minutes.
Enduro cars will race next Saturday in the first-ever 100-lap Enduro National with a $15,000 purse (based on a 50-car field). The race winner will receive $2,500, with P. 2 through P. 5 receiving $800, $600, $500, and $450. P. 10 pays $300. The next ten positions pay $250; positions 21 to 50 pay $200.
ENDURO FIGURE 8: Fifteen of 17 entrants were able to start the 25-lap F-8 race. Mike Di Gregorio, from Menifee, led every lap from the front row in a Bolinas team Honda Accord. It was his first F-8 victory. James Bolinas, with his daughter Keira as a passenger, started alongside his other Honda and finished second, 2.489 seconds back. Sprint car veteran Rodney Argo was a close third in his No. 19 Honda Accord.
Robert Rice and Eddie Howell followed with 14 of 15 cars still on track. A lap 2 collision at the mid-infield intersection caused fans to react loudly. The X-intersection crash involved fifth place R. Rice and last place Robert Amato, who turned to his right at the last second and sideswiped the Rice car. Both cars continued, but damage to Amato’s car soon sidelined him.
SKID PLATE 20: Only 16 of 22 skid plate car entrants were able to answer the call for main event five on the program. Mike Di Gregorio, the F-8 winner, came back in his own black No. 18 Honda Accord and started 11th. He led laps 4-20 and won by half a lap (23-seconds) over Steven Belling. Robbie Salcido and Robert Rice were the only other lead lap drivers with 14 of 16 starters still circulating after the 14-minute, all-green flag race.
Di Gregorio, the “king of skid plate racing”, has won all seven skid plate races this season in the same Honda Accord he first raced during 2013. Skid plate racing started at IS in 2009. There have been 65 races run to date and Di Gregorio has won 22 (34%). His brother-in-law Sean Brennan ranks second with 15 skid plate victories in three different No. 33 cars. He also started racing in 2013 but was not present Saturday. The two family members have won 37 (52%) of 65 races run. They did not race in the first 17 skid plate races prior to 2013.
TRAILER RACE: Fifteen entrants drove sedans, pickups and even a tow truck to pull trailers with primarily boats, jet-skis, house trailers and miscellaneous cargo on the third-mile oval. They took the green flag from a standing start and crashing/bashing commenced immediately. After almost 20 minutes only two vehicles pulled still intact trailers, so the starter waved the checkered flag.
Fans determined the top three finishers by their cheers based upon who they thought provided the most entertaining hits. The top three officially were: Robbie Salcido, from Perris, Steve Cook, who drove his own working tow truck, and Michael Avrick.
Then all track lights were turned off and a ten-minute aerial fireworks show provided the final thrills of the night until 10:35 pm. When lights were turned on so fans could exit safely, the PA announcer asked departing spectators if they had a good time and enjoyed the 3.5 hour night of entertainment. A loud chorus of cheers and applause greeted his inquiry.
Next Saturday, November 3 will be the annual and only Irwindale appearance of the year of the fast King of the Wing sprint cars, plus the first ever $15,000 Enduro Car National 100-lap feature. Legend cars, spec modifieds and super stocks are also slated to race.