Irwindale, CA., Oct. 12 – The annual Irwindale Speedway “Breast Cancer Awareness Night” started with an afternoon NISSFEST car show where about 50 Nissan owners displayed cars in the front parking lot. It attracted hundreds of people and helped boost attendance to more than 3,000. Many visitors purchased grandstand tickets and watched a drifting demo event following the National Anthem. Veteran drifting drivers took part in the 15-minute final round of solo and tandem competition following earlier on-track competition from 4:45 to 5:30.
NASCAR Irwindale competitors raced for six 2019 track championships starting at 7:30. An all-female drivers demolition derby concluded the program. Championship-deciding events included Lucas Oil Race Trucks and You Race LA Spec Late Models in a pair of 35-lap features on the half-mile. Both series raced in the same twin-35 lap races, but separate points and track titles were awarded in each division. The two features paid the usual 50-points to win.
INEX Legend Cars and Tucker Tires of Covina-sponsored enduro cars followed with 35-lap main events on the third-mile oval. A 25-lap Progressive Paint Super Stock main also used the third-mile and preceded the second truck/spec late model feature. These three divisions awarded double points for the season finales, so winners received 100 points with a dropoff of four points per position.
The final event was the third annual “Black Flag Cancer” all-female drivers demolition derby organized by veteran enduro competitor Cheryl Hyland. It attracted a new track record 23 drivers in four-cylinder foreign and American sedans. The demo derby purse from various individuals and company sponsors awarded $1,100 to the winner. The event lasted from 9:49 to 10:25 pm with three remaining competitors battling to the checkered flag. One brief red flag at 10:15 flew because of a small engine fire.
CHAMPIONS CROWNED: Irwindale 2019 track champions by divisions were all point leaders entering the evening.
> Kenny Smith, 73, repeated his 2018 spec late model championship in his own RCF-built No. 43 Chevy. He won by 44-points and was the fastest qualifier six times. He is the oldest track champion at IS, which opened in 1999. The Oak Hills resident has won ten championships including titles at Saugus Speedway, which closed in 1995. His wife Mary Lou, who has been fighting cancer at the City of Hope Medical Center, was present Saturday. The 2019 series had ten main events with five different winners. Smith won four times, including a non-points May 25 race. Some drivers could not make a rescheduled date so it became a non-points event. Sixteen drivers scored points.
> Lucas McNeil, 26, of Saugus, backed up his 2018 truck championship in his No. 78. He was the fastest qualifier six times and won five of ten features. Four drivers won the ten mains. Ten drivers scored series points. McNeil won his second IS championship by four points (482-478) over three-time feature winner Andrew Porter, Smith’s 26-year old grandson, who won both 35-lap truck features Saturday.
> Darren Amidon, 34, from Lakeside, won his sixth INEX Legend Cars IS championship in his own 1930s-replica No. 33 coupe. His Irwindale title years started in 2007. He has amassed 41 IS main event victories, eighth highest total in IS history. He won four of the eight features and earned his 2019 crown by 12 points. Four drivers won the eight features and 24 drivers scored series points. .
> Rich De Long III, 31, of Castaic, became a three-time IS super stock champion in 2019. He dominated the series by setting fastest qualifying time in all eight events, leading the most laps, and winning all eight main events in his No. 84 Chevy SS. He won the title by 78 points. Twelve drivers scored series points.
> Rodney Argo, 46, from Gardena, won his first IS championship in the Enduro Sport division with his No, 9 1999 Honda Prelude. The former 410 ci sprint car feature winner at Perris started racing in the four-cylinder enduro sedan class during 2017. IS began awarding enduro points in 2018. For 2019 the series was divided into 2.3 liter sport class and the less-powerful 2.0 liter stock class. Argo, a six-time feature winner, won the hotly-contested sport class by two points (486-484) over three-time winner Bory Molina. Four different winners won the 10 sport division races. Fifteen drivers scored points.
> Brad Stellman, 56, from Gardena, became a first-time IS champion in the second year of IS stock enduro car racing. He drove his No. 62 1995 Honda Accord and was the top stock class enduro driver in the combined divisions four times as six drivers scored first place points. He finished eighth overall in the season finale behind faster sport enduro cars. All stock class cars started in front of all sport class cars after the 11-race enduro series was divided into two classes for the second 2019 event onward. Stellman beat runner-up Robert Rice by eight points (474-466).
1ST TRUCK/SPEC LM 35: Seven trucks and seven spec late models raced with fastest quialifiers in front at the start. Andy Partridge, 30, started second and led the first four laps in the No. 21 car. Andrew Porter started his truck third and led laps 5-16. Partridge led laps 17-35 and won by 1.584 over Porter, whose grandfather K. Smith trailed the winner by 2.271 seconds. L. McNeil, Jeff Williams,Travis Irving (first race in years), Ron Nava, L. J. Billings, Ed Cutler, and Jacob McNeil completed the top ten.
All 14 starters completed 35 laps in a 17-minute race slowed by two yellow flags for solo spins. Five cars and five trucks finished in the top ten using the same 602 GM crate spec engines. Partridge logged the fastest lap of 88.483 mph. The spec late model rookie had only raced an enduro car years ago and this year was on the half-mile was a rookie. He won three of ten features.
2ND TRUCK/SPEC LM 35: The second combined series race (event five Saturday) started at 9:03 with a six-vehicle inverted starting lineup based upon the first 35 finishing positions. Williams led three laps. Then Smith paced laps 4-25. Partridge led laps 26-35 and beat truck champ Smith by 1.021. P. 3 Porter trailed his grampa by 2.678-seconds and was the highest finishing trucker. Champion McNeil was fourth with Williams fifth. Nava, Irving, J. McNeil, Cutler and Dennis Arena completed the top ten.
All 14 drivers finished with only Will Browne, 16, a lap down in his first-ever race on the half-mile. He drove the ex-Bill Sedgwick truck now owned by his father Todd, a Jet Blue Airline pilot and three-time enduro car feature winner through 2016 in his No. 84 Honda Accord. The junior Browne drove an enduro car on the third-mile once during 2016. Smith ran the fastest lap of 87.668 mph. The winner completed the all-green light race in 12:08.954.
LEGENDS 35: Seven legend car drivers raced with a fully-inverted starting lineup by late afternoon qualifying times. Amidon, from fifth, led every lap. He won by 0.406 over fastest qualifier Ricky Schlick, who started sixth in the Alan family No. 25 coupe raced by current SCCA Trans Am TA2 rookie Lawless Alan, the 2018 IS late model track champion. The 13-minute race had two caution flags. Tyler Hicks, three-time IS legend car champion Chad Schug, Christen Bazen, and Ricky Leigh followed with Marysville driver Brian Park five laps back. Amidon turned the quickest lap of 73.402 mph.
SUPER STOCK 25: Rich De Long III started eighth in a ten-car field and led laps 4-25 after passing laps 1-3 leader Robby Harryman’s Camaro with an inside move in turn four. Brother Jason De Long was the runner-up and trailed by a full straightaway (8.844 seconds). Harryman finished third. First-time IS racer Tegan Harlan, 13, from Canyon Lake, set fourth fastest qualifying time and placed fourth after starting last in a Victory Circle-built No. 28 Chevy. Jerry Toporek was fifth and the last driver on the lead lap. All ten starters finished the all-green flag 7:02.800 race. The winner’s 73.877 mph lap was the quickest.
ENDURO 35: Seventeen four-cylinder enduro sedans raced in an all-green light, ten-minute race on the third-mile. Five cars had inoperable electronic scoring transponders so early laps were not shown correctly on the top ten scoring pylon. Hand scoring resulted in the correct finish. By lap 5 sport driver Rick Conti led with sport point leader Argo on his back bumper. Argo took the lead in traffic and led laps 8-20 over Bory Molina and Bobby Ozman by a few lengths.
On lap 21 Molina made an inside pass between the third and fourht turns and took the lead. He edged Argo by five-yards with Ozman 30-yards back. Sport class drivers Conti, Ian Rotundo, Kirk Kubik and Mike McIntyre followed in P. 4-7. All ran 35 laps. P. 8 B. Stellman beat fellow stock class drivers R. Rice and Todd Paperny who also completed 34 laps. Molina’s 66.452 mph was the fastest lap.
ALL-FEMALE DEMO DERBY: The entertaining 23-car demo took place on a soapy, watered battleground within large tires in the infield. The 36-minute contest had 17 first-time demo derby or enduro competitors. They were attracted by the $1,100 first place prize won by rookie Trish Rojas. Second place ($500) went to DD veteran Jannie Atkinson. Enduro/skid plate racer Ashlee Rice received third ($250) from a panel of judges in the race control booth. P. 4-5 money ($150 and $100) went to rookies Berlyn Hardy and Shelby Halsey.
For the first time, all DD drivers were brought from the pits to the front straight in a pair of motor homes. Saturday’s substitute pit announcer Bob Beck (Irwindale’s dragstrip announcer) interviewed each DD driver individually before she walked to her car. Smashing and bashing soon littered the battleground that had to be cleared out before drifting competitors took over the track Wednesday to set-up for Friday-Saturday October 18-19 pro drifting competition. A new movie shoot will use IS from October 22-November 2.
The next IS racing event on Sunday afternoon, November 10 will be the “Fall Spectacular” featuring King of the Wing 410 cu. in. winged sprint cars that reach 140 mph on the straights. Jo Jo Helberg set the fastest lap ever recorded at Irwindale on 11/22/14. His fastest IS record lap was 130.520 mph. Also on the program will be legend cars and enduro sedans racing on a new 12-turns road course using both ovals and the infield. A first-time RV Demolition Figure-8 race will follow.
Gates for the rare Sunday IS event will open on November 10 at 11 am with autographs at 12:45 and the first race at 2 pm. Admission prices are $12. for adults, $7. for kids 6-12, and free for kids 5 and under. The most recent KotW race in Meridian, ID on September 20-21 had 31 and 30 sprint cars. KotW teams will race at Kern County Raceway Park Saturday night, November 9 before coming to IS. The high-point driver after those two races will be crowned the KotW Series West Coast Region Champion.