IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY “N of D” ATTRACTS SRO 7,000+ CROWD – By Tim Kennedy
Irwindale, CA., May 25 – The Irwindale Speedway Memorial Day weekend “Night of Destruction” and oval racing program presented by Pick Your Part Saturday attracted a packed grandstand of thrill-seekers. The standing room only crowd topped 7,000 spectators and was the second sellout at IS this season. A crew from the MAVTV Network taped the event for telecast at a date to be announced. A ten-minute aerial fireworks show concluded the eight event program at 10:35 pm.
Regular IS attendees were augmented by numerous first-time visitors who responded to IS commercials on FM radio. Vehicles were still entering the track parking lot from Live Oak Ave. at 7:35 pm for the advertised 7:00 start. Spectators were still buying tickets and entering the front gate turnstyle at 7:20. The first race—a 25-lap enduro race—on a five-turn roval that used the third-mile and a cone-marked jog across the start/finish line on the half-mile track.
A PA announcement at 7:25 let everyone know all 6,500 tickets were “sold out” and only standing room only tickets were available. A subsequent PA announcement asked all fans seated in the grandstand to squeeze together a bit to allow more seating space for late arriving fans. Fans were standing three and four deep at the back of the grandstand during all events.
Events included in order:
> A Tucker Tire four-cylinder enduro sedan race on the third-mile oval.
> A combined Lucas Oil Irwindale Race Trucks/You Race LA Spec Late Model 40-lap race on the half-mile.
> A 25-lap Figure 8 race for enduro cars.
> An auto soccer match in the infield between enduro cars from Pick Your Part and Jan’s Towing.
> A Tucker Tire Skid Plate Flag Pole race for enduro cars with cars using the infield instead of the third-mile backstretch.
> A pickup truck with its engine in the truck bed performed wheelies in the infield and on the front straight of the half-mile track. This event replaced the planned burn-down of an old sedan by the PYP pickup truck “Inferno” that has an aircraft jet engine at the back.
> The popular “Trailer Race” had a season-high 19 entries towing trailers with various cargo (boats, jet-skis, camping trailers) which other competitors tried to destroy. Entrants circled the third-mile and smashed through three old house trailers parked on the front straight so entrants could impress fans and earn their votes as the event winner.
> A ten-minute aerial pyrotechnics show saluted Memorial Day and entertained a still packed grandstand. Fans departed smiling. The Irwindale PD efficient traffic flow plan expedited the exit of vehicles from all gates of the parking lot.
ENDURO CAR 25: All 23 starters extended USA flags on poles from their window area during parade laps. The opening race was delayed 15 minutes to allow more spectators to enter the grandstand. A lap 3 red flag for a one car accident delayed the race for eight minutes. Kirk Kubik had slammed into the protective barrier at the entrance of the third turn. He was not injured but a Jan’s Towing wrecker towed his “Fabulous Lightning McQueen” No. 5 Honda to the pits.
The 25-lap race had two classes competing and awarded first place points and trophies in both classes. All 2.3 liter “Sport” class cars started in back of the 2.0 liter “stock” class cars. Pole starter Dewitt Jones, from Gardena, led the first ten laps. Sport class point leader Rodney Argo, a former 410 cu. in. sprint car driver and winner of the prestigious 1998 Oval Nationals in Perris, charged forward from 11th starting spot and led laps 11-25. He won for the fourth time in five 2019 events aboard his No. 9 1999 Honda Prelude. Twenty cars finished.
Argo won by 2.675 seconds over stock class winner D. Jones’ Honda Accord. Sport class runner-up Bobby Ozman finished third overall, with stock class drivers Robert Rice and Brad Stellman fourth and fifth in Honda Accords. Top three finishers in both classes stopped at the finish line for PA interviews with track co-promoter Tim Huddleston. Point standings through May show Argo leading the sport class with 198. Bory Molina (sixth place overall) ranks second with 188.
TRUCKS/SPEC LATE MODELS 40: The second event was the race of the night and captivated even “N of D” partisans. Relatively comparable in laps times, six spec late models and five trucks ran a 19-minute race with two caution flags for spins. The entertaining race had nine lead changes among four drivers. Two drove trucks and two drove spec late models. The winner did not lead until the final turn of the last lap.
Trucker Dennis Arena started second and led laps 1-5, 10-17, 20-24 and 26. Trucker/point leader Lucas Mc Neil started sixth and led laps 6-9 and 18-19. Spec late model rookie Andy Partridge started seventh and led laps 25 and 27-39. Eighth starter and 2018 truck champion Kenny Smith, 72, made an inside charge in turn four on the final lap. His RF fender tapped the LR of leader Partridge, who got loose, slid up the track and brushed the crashwall. Partridge slowed and dropped to fourth place before crossing the finish line.
Jace Jones, 14, made his spec late model debut in the HPR No. 51, started fifth. He battled from laps 10-40 in the tight four and five vehicle lead pack to the finish. They raced three-wide all around the track without contact until the final turn P. 1-2 unintentional contact. Jones finished second (-0.464) with L. Mc Neil (-0.958) third and disappointed A. Partridge fourth (-0.977). Todd Conrad drove Robert Arevalo’s No. 19 car to fifth, 2.010 seconds off the lead. All ten finishers completed 40 laps.
NASCAR late model veteran and K & N West rookie Jagger Jones, 16, drove the No. 29 spec late model for the first time but dropped out after 27 laps. It was the first time the grandsons of 1963 Indianapolis 500 winner Parnelli Jones raced each other on a half-mile. The third generation racing brothers from Scottsdale, AZ have raced each other in Legend Cars at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway 3/8-mile paved track. Spotters on the roof included drivers Ryan Partridge for his younger brother Andy, and IS late model champion Trevor Huddleston for one of the Jones brothers.
It was the fourth race of 2019 at IS for both series, and the third time combined race with winners in both divisions. All three of the combined races have been the most exciting “race of the night” and the May 25 race was the best. Smith, whose wife Mary Lou is again undergoing cancer treatment at the nearby City of Hope in Duarte, has won three of four Spec LM mains. Mc Neil has won all four truck features. Robby Hornsby, the 2017 Spec LM track champion in Smith’s No. 43, won the May 11 race in the No. 19, but he was not present Saturday.
Smith now leads spec late model track points with 196. Series rookie/enduro car veteran Troy Andersen has 172 points. A. Partridge ranks third with 142. L. Mc Neil has a perfect 200 points (at 50 points per victory) after four races. Second and third ranked truckers are Andrew Porter with 190 and Dennis Arena with 174 following the May 25 event.
FIGURE 8: A field of 19 enduro sedans raced on the usual F-8 course. Argo won his second main event of the night in the same car. He now has 18 main event victories at IS after starting his enduro car “fun racing” with a 1990s Honda Accord in September 2017. Argo started sixth, led laps 4-25 and won by 1.110 over pole starter Robert John Rice, who led the initial laps. James Bolinas, Robert Rice and Joe Labrosciano followed and completed all 25 laps.
Winner Argo had R.J Rice at his back bumper on lap 13 racing through the X intersection. He hit the back right fender of the pink No. 65 slow Honda driven by newcomer Tiffany Ortega, who spun off the track without injury. Argo continued under power and pulled away from Rice. The all-green race took 9:55.602. Argo ran the fastest lap (60.376 mph) and averaged 56.968 mph.
AUTO SOCCER: The first auto soccer match at IS since 2015 matched the past winning team from Pick Your Part with four enduro sedan drivers in play. Jan’s Towing also had four enduro sedans in action. PYP won the two auto soccer matches in 2015 against a Low Budget TV team.
Three concrete K-rails formed goals at both the east and west ends of the infield. A round 400+ pound empty steel propane tank, painted white with black spots, was the “soccer ball”. A referee car put the “ball” in play. Teams used the front of their cars to nose it into their opponents’ goal. After 18-minutes PYP won 5 to 1 over Jan’s Towing. Robbie Salcido scored three goals and Robert Rice scored two for PYP.
SKID PLATE FLAG POLE 15: Twelve enduro drivers used metal skid plates instead of back tires and raced 15-laps on the third-mile “flag pole” circuit inside the third-mile backstretch. Cars also followed rubber cones and raced across the S/F line of the half-mile track. Pole starter Mike McIntyre led the first seven laps. Dad Wayne Lee led laps 8-12 but spun out of first place making the right turn towards the third turn. Auto soccer star Robbie Salcido led the final three laps in his No. 16 Honda Accord and won by six seconds.
Runner-up position became a “family feud” between son Austin Lee and father Wayne Lee. They bumped near the finish line at the checkered flag and both team cars spun across the finish line on the half-mile towards the first turn. Austin beat Wayne by 0.051. Fourth place McIntyre and fifth place Robert Rice also completed all 15 laps. The all-green light race lasted ten minutes.
TRAILER RACE: The third chaotic by design trailer race of 20+ laps started a season-high 19 of 20 entries. Sedans, pickup trucks and Chevy El Caminos towed trailers with boats, jet-skis, camping trailers and various cargo. Drivers started two-by-two from a standing start and circled the third-mile oval while trying to smash trailer contents of competitors. The three large house trailers placed on the front straight for drivers to demolish did not last long.
Laps were not scored, because post-race vocal cheers from fans in the grandstand determined the winner based on entertainment value as usual. Only three entries remained on track amid all the expected litter when the starter waved his checkered flag after 25 minutes of smashing. Fans voted James Bolinas the winner in a close vote over Robert Rice. Ray Reyes was third.
The next IS event on Saturday, June 8 will be another NASCAR Night with twin features for late models topping the seven division program.