IRWINDALE, California — Toyota Speedway at Irwindale management named the Halloween eve event “Night of Destruction and Halloween Celebration” and the event lived up to that advance billing. Competitors took the title literally and obliged to the delight of an enthusiastic, near capacity crowd of 6,400. Last year about 4,700 persons attended the same event. Crashes, track records, a jet-powered pickup truck, a track championship battle, and close racing thrilled fans in the final regular season event before the annual USAC Midget Turkey Night Grand Prix on Thanksgiving evening. The first $50,000 Lucas Oil triple-header featuring SRL SW Tour cars, super late models and late models will follow on Friday-Saturday November 26-27. Shortly before the scheduled 7:00 pm start of racing, lines of cars waiting to enter the main entrance on Live Oak Ave. stretched a quarter mile east to the 605 Freeway and west to the pit gate entrance. Management delayed the start of racing to 7:15 to allow the huge crowd to enter the track premises.
On-track racing action on a busy eight event program in order of appearance was:
> 15-lap clockwise race on the third-mile with a new track record skid plate car count of 39.
> 75-lap race on the half-mile with 30 trucks present for the first-time combining of all three truck series that compete at the track.
> 20-lap, nine-car Drive Tech Racing School late model race on the half-mile.
> 30-lap Enduro on the third-mile for FWD cars using skid plate cars with tires mounted on the rear wheels instead of skid plates.
> 20-lap combined open competition/Ken Porter Auction Classic Stocks race on the third-mile.
> 25-lap Pick Your Part Outlaw Figure 8 race to determine the track champion between two past F-8 track champions.
> 12-lap trailer race for 12 entries towing trailers carrying assorted items such as boats, jet-skis, and Halloween pumpkins.
> A $1,500 demolition derby that paid $600 to win and attracted eight cars.
Racing action kept fans occupied from 7:15 until the demo derby conclusion at 10:43 pm. The night of destruction continued even as fans and competitors departed the track. About half an hour after the final checkered flag, the Drive Tech 18-wheeler exited the pits carrying some of the school cars raced that evening. As it turned left onto Live Oak Ave. a Toyota van, with two persons aboard, slammed into the left rear of the trailer. The van received extensive front end damage. Irwindale Police and ambulance crews arrived quickly and treated the ambulatory occupants as a wrecker driver cleaned-up debris in the street. No serious injuries were evident during on-track or post-race altercations.
SKID PLATE: The seventh 2010 skid plate race NTR field of 39 topped the former record car count of 33 on September 11. The front wheel drive cars raced in a clockwise direction with metal skid plates affixed to rear wheels instead of tires. There were two race leaders. Spinning and crashing started even before some cars crossed the starting line to take the green flag. Daryl Scoggins, the reigning two-time Justice Brothers Mini Stock track champion, started in row 17 of 20 and led lap 2 through the lap 15 checkers. The race had one brief red flag on lap 11 to remove a car stalled on the front straight with the driver side exposed to oncoming cars. Scoggins drove his own No. 46 1999 Toyota Camry to a 24.768 second victory over 18th starter James Altman. His winning average speed was 30.093 mph. Jim Smith started sixth and finished third, 38.102 seconds back. Scoggins won two of six prior skid plate races this year. He ran the fastest lap of the race at 36.409 mph on lap 12. The next fastest lap speed was 33.726 mph by sixth finisher Gabrielle Hansen, 18, in her usual No. 08 Honda Accord. Truck and SLM veteran Luis Martinez, Jr. and Adam Ditto completed 14 laps and placed fourth and fifth. John Zimmerman, James Altman, Brian Tully and Rick Dial rounded out the top ten. About 28 of the 39 cars on the grid were still on the track at the end and most were still moving forward. Four of the 39 cars did not complete a lap. The race took 9:57.555. The winner received the first Robert Rice Skid Plate Car Trophy—a wheel rim mounted on a metal plate. Rice originated skid plate racing at TS@I; he also built and owns the skid plates.
TRUCKS: The three truck series combined field of 30 had 15 King Taco Super Trucks, three ASA Speed Trucks, and 11 Southwest Tour Trucks. Fastest qualifier Ryan Partridge, a ten-time feature winner this season and 2010 KTST champion, ran a 19.409 and drew11 for the main event inversion. The fastest ASA Speed Truck driver—Randel King—was fifth FQ overall at 19.611. When the green flag flew at 7:40 pm for 29 starters, an incident as the field exited turn four caused a spin by King and the loss of all front end bodywork for KTST two-time 2010 feature winner Matt Kimball. Both drivers restarted in their original positions on the complete restart. Pat Mintey, Jr. and Ryan Fortier occupied the front row. Fortier out-jumped the two-time KTST champion and led the first five laps. Then seventh starter King took the lead and paced the rest of the race. Partridge had his No. 48 Dodge Dakota up to P. 3 by lap 5 and took second from Fortier on lap 7. He then engaged leader King, a 2009 ASA Speed Truck Series veteran and 2010 Pepsi SLM front runner, in an entertaining battle for the lead to the conclusion. He trailed by 0.386 at the finish after a green, white, checkered flag finish following the tenth and final caution flag. King held an expanding 30-yard lead before that final yellow flag for a two truck crash on the front straight that left debris on the track.
Dennis Arena passed Andrew Anderson for P. 3 on lap 74 and trailed the winner by 1.245 seconds. Anderson, Jeff Williams, ASA driver Cameron Jocelyn, Kimball (-front bodywork), Robert Manley, Blake Dunkleberger, and Mintey completed the top ten. Dunkleberger, a 15-year old rookie from Bandolero and Legend ranks, had coaching from his rooftop spotter Rod Johnson, Jr., the 2010 Auto Club Late Model champion and his HPR teammate. Neil Conrad, the top SWT Truck finisher, earned P. 11. He was the last driver to complete 75 laps with 20 of 29 starters racing at the finish. The race took 64 minutes to complete because ten cautions flew on laps 1, 5, 8, 17, 23, 31, 32, 38, 41 and 72. Todd Cameron, the 2010 runner-up in final KTST points, was involved in three incidents and spun each time, but he finished 13th. King ran the fastest race lap at 19.644 (91.631 mph) to edge the next fastest Partridge's 19.789 (90.960 mph). Only three other drivers, including Cameron, ran sub-20-second laps.
DRIVE TECH: The nine-car field for the fifth DTLM race at TS@I this season was a new class of students from the racing school, which trains at California Speedway in Fontana. The prior four Drive Tech Irwindale 25-lap races had two winners. There were eight rookies and driving instructor Richie Altman, a TS@I multi-series veteran who started last in a Chevy Monte Carlo. Pole starter/Newport Coast resident Ali Fadavi, of middle eastern descent, led laps 1, 6, 9, 11 and 20. Outside front row starter John Cribbs from La Jolla, led laps 2-4 and dropped out with a problem. Altman led laps 5, 7-8, 10, 12-19 and pulled into the infield from turn two on the white flag lap to allow his students to race for the victory. Fadavi won by 0.236 over sixth starter Jimmy Nichols, from Norco. Ryan Reese, from Hermosa Beach, placed third (-16.080 seconds) and was the last driver to complete 20 laps. Altman, Ron Hudson, Bruce Mills, Greg Meade and Jeff La Rosa were the other finishers in the 10:34.827 race that had one caution flag on lap 4 for a solo spin in turn four by Mills. Drive Tech ran a pair of 6-lap heat races at 3:30 pm before time trials for three other series. Fadavi and Cribbs won the heats.
ENDURO: The first open Enduro race in track history attracted a 27-car field of FWD cars that had raced in the first race of the night. With tires now mounted on the two rear wheels, cars raced counter-clockwise on the third-mile. Six cars carried a ride-along passenger. Drivers used a B-shaped course with cones marking quick left and right turns on the backstretch. (The term B-shaped course was first used in the 1930s-40s at Carrell Speedway in Gardena and at the Southern Ascot track in South Gate according to the Thomas Luce book on the California Jalopy Association.) The Enduro had four leaders and a last lap, last turn pass by the winner in his oval track debut. Car 5 led the first two laps. Then Legends veteran Gary Scheuerell led the next four laps and laps 20-29. Newcomer Maeng Joon, a veteran of Formula D drifting at the track, started fifth and led laps 8-19 and lap 30 at the checkered flag. He became the first Korean TS@I oval track winner. Joon drove the well-used dark green No. 36 sedan dubbed the “Tijuana taxi” because it has a lighted taxi sign on its roof. Fourth starter Scheuerell trailed Joon by 0.293. Jason Blue, Jim Smith, Steve Dien, the winged No. 57 of James Altman, and Layne Sonnenberg finished in P. 3-7 respectively, and all ran 30 laps in the 11:22.155 all-green flag race. Skid plate veteran Gabriella Hansen, 18-year old daughter of Figure 8 driver Sean Hansen, finished eighth and ran 29 laps. Daryl Scoggins came from the back and placed tenth in the same No. 46 Toyota Camry that he used to win the opening race with skid plates mounted on the back wheels. On lap 19 Scheuerell ran the fastest lap of the race at 21.510 (55.732 mph). On lap 10 Joon ran a close second quickest at 21.512 (55.727 mph).
OPEN COMP/KPA CLASSIC STOCKS: The fifth event of the busy night was a 20-lap race for open comp cars/trucks, plus classic stocks that started on the third-mile in back of the faster vehicles. The field of 19 had five super trucks, five classic stocks, four late models, three super stocks and one each winged modified and winged F-8 car. Christopher Evans, of San Bernardino, started fifth in the No. 95 late model and led all 20 laps for his first TS@I victory in a close duel with Richie Altman's late model. He beat Altman by 0.201 after a 14-minute race with two cautions. Rich DeLong III came from sixth to finish third, 0.611 back in his No. 84 ex-Rick Crow winged modified. Partridge drove his No. 48 truck to P. 4, five seconds back. Jeff Williams (truck), Steve Smith (SS), Jerry Toporek (winged F-8), Craig Rayburn (LM), Steve Cheek (SS) and Ken Michaelian (CS) completed the top ten. Michaelian clinched his second consecutive classic stocks championship with his No. 43 Petty-blue 1972 Dodge Dart at the last series race. Points were not offered this week. He did the traditional tire-smoking donuts in the infield to celebrate his title. Sixteen of 19 starters finished and nine ran all 20 laps. During qualifying at 3:45 pm, Joe Anderson 24, broke his own open comp one-lap track record on the third-mile. He drove the No. 56 HPR Monte Carlo late model to a 15.141 (79.176 mph) quick time, topping his own 15.166 (79.045 mph) in the No. 50 HPR Chevy team car four weeks ago.
PYP FIGURE 8: Pole starter Steve Stewart, of Long Beach, led all 23 laps. “Barefoot” Billy Ziemann ran second all the way and trailed by half a lap in replicating his first Irwindale F-8 title in 2000. Stewart, the four-time champion TS@I F-8 champion (2005-07-08-09), trailed Ziemann by 12 points entering the final race and gained only two to finish second in points (342-332). Ziemann won four of seven 2010 races and Stewart won three times, including the last two race. Andy Schoening, Tony Curtis, Robert Rice, Willy Voesten, Sean Hansen, J. Toporek and Richie Altman's late model followed in the ten-car, 7:19.517 all-green light race.
TRAILER RACE: The 12-car field started from a standing start four abreast in three rows on the third-mile oval. Each entry towed a trailer with cargo, such as row boats, jet skis, pumpkins, and the back half of a Triumph Spitfire roof-less car with a stuffed bear “driver”. The most unique tow vehicle was a white 1989 Lincoln Town Car stretched limousine towing a rowboat. Past trailer race winner Adam Ditto led all 12 laps from pole position and won by 0.821 over the late entry No. 67. It was the fourth TS@I trailer race of 2010. The all-green race took 4:16.178 and had fans laughing and pointing throughout the event as trailers shed contents and cars ran over pumpkins and other debris on the track. Cars also took out trailers and other cars and that caused tempers to flare on lap 10. Robert Rice rammed the limo trailer in the third turn and pinned it against the crash-wall before continuing. Limo driver David Noriega, a first-time TS@I competitor, took off after Rice's car to reciprocate against Rice's third place car. The limo slammed Rice's entry into the first turn crash-wall as the pink No. 69 pushed the white No. 000 limo back end. Another car became involved in the melee. Irate Rice climbed out of his car and began throwing punches at Noriega's head as he sat in his limo while still wearing his helmet. Noriega said he received a few blows to the side of his face before he closed his visor. Onlookers said Rice threw between 10 and 15 punches, with most landing on Noriega's helmet. Reportedly, he threatened to get even with Noriega after the race, causing Noriega to walk towards track staff near the starting line to report the incident. Irwindale Police responded to a call, but no further action followed the 10:30 pm checkered flag.
DEMO DERBY: Eight cars, including several well-used skid plate cars, took part in the $1,500 demo derby. Action took place from 10:34 to 10:43 pm on a soaped and watered infield section marked off by large tires. Christine Thiebert, 19, won $600 for first place over her sister Alisha, 22, who garnered $300. The winner also won the seven-car TS@I all-women demo derby four weeks ago. Versatile wheel-man Adam Ditto placed third and earned $200. Past DD winner Bill Thiebert, father of the P 1-2 sisters, and fifth place Sarah Atkinson, 21, each received $100. Atkinson, a TS@I assistant timer/scorer, is the daughter of TS@I pit official and pace car driver “Big”Mike Atkinson. She drove the same 1999 Toyota Camry No. 46 in which Scoggins won the skid plate race earlier. The car has won three of the seven 2010 skid plate mains, including the last race with Steve Rogers driving. The well-used car was being retired by Scoggins after he drove it to tenth place in the Enduro. In effect, he said have at it girl before sending the Camry to the scrap yard. Scoggins and his sponsor, S & J Towing of Pomona, recently took delivery of five cars from an auto dismantling yard. He will rent those cars for $300 a night for 2011 TS@I skid plate and Enduro races.