Irwindale, Calif. - - Cramming about as much action, excitement, and adventure that can be crammed into one evening's racing show has been Irwindale Speedway's MO for three and a half years now, and Saturday night's NASCAR Weekly Racing Show presented by Dodge promises to be no exception to that (unwritten) rule.
For example: the Tonight Show's own "Ross the Intern" is scheduled to compete in the night's Pick Your Part Demolition Derby for the pride and honor of the highly-rated late night variety show which stars certified car nut Jay Leno. Ross' "race" will be covered by the Tonight Show cameras as he competes in his first (and possibly last) Smash-Em-Up Derby.
His boss' (Leno) penchant for sending him on odd and seemingly dangerous assignments, has made the adventures of the redoubtable Ross one of the most popular segments on the show. For this garrulous gig Pick Your Part's own Tony Martinez will supply a suitably durable vehicle as well as some well-tuned advice for Ross' first foray into the world of wilder motorsports.
Adding immensely to the fevered anticipation for the Demolition Derby is the fact that noted racing historian, author, and Irwindale Speedway program publisher, Harold "The Gizzard of Oz" Osmer, will himself be competing in the fracas. When asked why he enigmatically answered, "Why Not?". Thus deftly answering a question with a question, while thinking up some more plausible explanation for his wife.
Wildomar resident James Altman leads the scramble for the series 2002 title in the Pick Your Part Figure 8 division with a slim 18-point advantage over San Berdoo's Chris Williamson (224 - 206). Steve Stewart (Long Beach) and Ron Cheney (Glendora) are locked in third place only 2 points behind Williamson in the Crazy 8's.
With Figure 8 crowd favorite "Barefoot" Billy Ziemann (two n's if you please) uncharacteristically residing in thirteenth place in the points, we thought that the afore-mentioned leaders should have cool nicknames too, and (without much brain-wracking) have come up with the following: "Wildomar Wildman", "Berdoo Banger", "Long Beach Looneypants", and "Glendora Grappler" ? We'll see if they stick, or if they come after the Irwindale PR Department with tire irons.
Two complete 25-mile sprint races (each paying full race points) are on the card for the Jani-King Super Late Models. Drivers have an acute love-hate relationship with "Twins". Win both (or even do reasonably well in both) and stay hot in the season's points race. Stumble in one or (unthinkably) both races and rack up a low (or no) score, and you might never recover this late in the season. Love-Hate ? Easy to understand when 'splained that way.
The great Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models are back on the 17th as well. Todd Burns from Riverside leads Agoura Hills' Tim Huddleston by only 24 points, 486 to 462, with 2001 Champ Dave Hessing (Canyon Country) coming on softly in third with 428 points. Now well past the half-way point in the season, smart decisions and sharp driving skills are paramount ? No one can afford to get lazy or complacent with the season on the line.
Darren Cheek (Phelan) leads the Vista Paint Super Stocks with a "comfortable" (?) 462 to 398 lead over Andrew Phipps (Simi Valley), with "Rookie" (??) Lee Ladd gaining momentum (and precious points) in third at 348. These stock-chassied, steel-bodied, mature (Cheek's car is only one year younger than its driver!) machines may not be the fastest things around the half-mile, but they are always there in quantity and always put on a rousing show.
The track gates open at 4PM on Saturday afternoon, with a live band playing, face-painting for the kids, and the autograph session on-track at 6PM. Racing starts at 7PM, but not before a crowd-participation session of "Know Your NASCAR" with prizes and free race tickets.
Prizes are also awarded to lucky number holders in the track's colorful and informative weekly program. Adding further to the program's worth is the fact that each program cover becomes a mini-poster when opened and laid flat.