SEPTEMBER 3 “NofD” @ IRWINDALE – By Tim Kennedy

Irwindale, CA., Sept. 3 – The latest Pick Your Part Night of Destruction at Irwindale Speedway attracted about 4,000 spectators despite the Labor Day weekend holiday and 105 degrees earlier in nearby Pasadena. It was still 95 degrees when racing started at 7:00. Many fans sat in the shaded area under the 12 suites and race control. It was still 90 degrees when racing concluded shortly before 10:00. Pits opened at 1:00 pm instead of 11:00 am in concession to the ongoing heat wave.

Tucker Tire Enduro 35: Eighteen four-cylinder sedans—ten stock and eight sport class—raced on the six-turn R-oval course. Robbie Salcido started second and led 16 laps. Ian Rotundo came from outside row eight and led laps 17-20. Then 13th starter Jason Woolcott, from San Pedro, shot into the lead entering the fourth turn and beat Rotundo to the lap 35 checkers by 0.481. Overall fastest qualifier Bobby Ozman placed third (-0.970). P.4 Salcido won the stock class 50-points. Twelve cars finished the 17-minute race that had one yellow flag.

Figure 8-30 laps: Eighteen enduro sedans were entered but only 12 cars were able to start after the enduro 35-lapper. Former 410 cu. in. sprint car driver Rodney Argo started second and led the first 27 laps in his No. 9 Honda Prelude. The red flag flew for seven minutes on lap 28 after contact at the X intersection. The No. 76 Honda Accord, driven by Robert Rice, hit the left front fender of second-running Rotundo, who was pressuring Argo for the lead. Both cars were sidelined and the drivers escaped injury.

Leader Argo, whose car received contact and spun in turn two just before the red flag, went to the pits before the green flag and did not return for the final three laps. Woolcott inherited the lead in a now four car field and paced the final three laps in his No. 19 Honda Prelude. Runner-up Tony Price trailed by 1.309. Bruce Marteney, an AMA speedway bike D-2 rider from San Dimas, finished third in his purple No.56 Acura Interga. It was his best result in two years of enduro racing. Robbie Salcido placed fourth with 29 laps. The event took 16-minutes.

Skid Plate Race: The final race was a 15-lap skid plate race on the third-mile. Eighteen cars were entered but only 12 started because of mishaps or mechanical problems during the first two races. The race provided the most exciting finish. Two drivers officially led the final lap at some point. Robert Rice led the opening lap in the pink No. 3 Honda Accord. Fastest qualifier/past skid plate cars event winner Austin Lee, from Ontario, led laps 2-13 by as much as a straightaway on lap 7.

Eighth starter Mike DiGregorio, from Menifee, was second by lap 7 and trailed the leader by a mere fender on lap 14. As they raced past the white flag and a slower car, DiGregorio was the leader by half a fender-length in the same black No. 18 Honda Accord that he started racing in 2013. He is the all-time skid plate feature winner with 25 victories. DiGregorio had to go high in turn one to clear the lapped car. Lee shot back to the lead entering the first corner and beat DiGregorio by 7.229 seconds. Wayne Lee, son of the winner, finished third, 20-seconds back. R. Salcido and R. Rice placed fourth and fifth respectively and were the last drivers on the lead lap. The all-green flag race took ten minutes.

The final on-track event was a trailer destruction race of 20+ unscored laps for eight starters. Three expendable motorhomes were parked on the watered third-mile front straight to be destroyed. Drivers did so quickly. Salcido’s No. 16 Honda Accord pushed a huge tire from the backstretch through a motorhome and received the bonus $300 cash from track management for accomplishing the feat. A red flag flew briefly at 9:48 pm to allow track firefighters to extinguish a small engine fire in Cody Pearlstein’s No. 3 pickup truck. Afterwards, applause and cheers by spectators determined the winner to be IS “master of mayhem” Robert Rice. He towed a trailered boat with his usual ride—the orange and black PYP No. 7 Chevy El Camino.

Other events during the evening were a motorcycle stunt show with seven riders. They performed twice after the first and second races. Another old car burndown took place in the infield after the skid place race. It featured fiery blasts from an aircraft J-10 jet engine mounted on the back of a red pickup truck appropriately named “Inferno”. A ten-minute aerial fireworks show started at 9:58 and concluded the evening.