Gone Racin' to Irwindale Speedway, Irwindale, CA.
Irwindale Speedway hosted Winston West twin 50-lap races on Memorial Day with a full house present at its track in Irwindale, California. This facility has everything going for it. Parking is close and convenient and the track is located right off the 605 freeway between the 10 and 210 freeways. It never takes long to get into the facility or to leave it. The fans are the first thing that one notices on entering. They arrive early and they stay until the last race. It is a family affair and is represented by all ages and gender, which makes it a great event to advertise if you are a sponsor. Located next to the stands is a band that plays music that appeals to everyone. There is an area set aside for vintage display cars. These cars will make a lap around the track in front of the fans just before the races begin. Irwindale invites car clubs to bring and display their vehicles and gives the drivers free entrance to the races. The facility is relatively new with all aluminum stands and easy access to the seats. There isn't a bad seat in the house to view the 1/2 and 1/3 mile races. The track faces the South, and catches the soft cooling winds and sun, so that by the time the evening action starts, it is a pleasant place to watch the races.
The pit area is well ordered and always humming with activity, and the tech stations are manned with efficient and able staff. Irwindale has a long line of food stands staffed by dozens of servers, which keeps lines to a minimum. There is a souvenir stand that sells T-shirts, caps and all manner of collectibles. In, around and under the stands are booths that give out information about other racing programs, including two that were very popular with the kids. Quarter Scale Motorsports races radio controlled miniature cars at Rialto Airport Speedway. They are 3-foot long and not your normal RC's. They race in a league that travels all around the country. AMA Speedway Motorcycle Racing at the Industry Hills Expo Center was the other booth attracting lots of attention. They race every Wednesday night from April to September. Bruce Flanders, the Speedway's announcer called the fan's attention to the autograph session down on the starting line about an hour before the first race. Lined up in neat rows were innumerable cars, with their drivers and crews waiting for the autograph seekers. Soon the starting line was awash with fans talking to their favorite drivers and collecting signatures for their collections.
Jim Williams is the owner of Irwindale Speedway and he sets the tone for the personnel at the track. Bob DeFazio is the track manager and Doug Stokes is the PR guy in charge of promoting the facility. These men, and the staff of Irwindale Speedway go out of their way to make the fans feel welcome. But they do that and more for the young racers who compete at the track. They take a liking to the young men and women who are driving at Irwindale. "There goes Audra," Stokes would say, "she's beating the guys tonight." Rod Johnson was the winner in the first Lucas Oil Super Late Models Series Twin 50 lap race, and Andrew Phipps won the second 50-lapper. There were no heats, positions having been determined by lap speeds in practice. All races were main events. Russell White finished both races in second place, yet was only a fraction of a second behind the two winners on this Memorial Weekend race.
Stokes introduced Lloyd Anthony Mack, first time winner at Irwindale in the Grand American Modified Series. Lloyd has impeccable credentials, having started his racing career in Go-Karts, winning 5 California State Championships and was also a 3 time Nationals Champion. Lloyd says that he honed his killer instincts in Go-Karting before going on to Stock car racing at 16, then West Coast Pro Truck Series at 17, and finally racing in Super Late Models, ASA Speed Truck Challenge, and the Grand American Series in 2002. The next year he raced in the IRL Infinity Pro Series with the Sam Schmidt Motorsports Team. He took a year off in order to earn his college degree in Business Management, and is now back into racing full time. The goal of this tough minded and super polite racer is to make it big in the Nextel Cup Series. His talent also came from having some excellent racing genes in his family. His great uncle was the late Tim Woods, who was a partner in the Stone, Woods and Cook Gas Altered drag car. His cousin, Tim Woods III, is racing in the Grand National West, sometimes referred to as the Winston West Series. These are the same cars as the Nextel Cup stock cars, only the West Coast stock cars have a different carburation system that decreases the horsepower by about 200hp. "Go-Karting made me what I am today," he said, but a supportive family and racing fraternity will help this very talented young man succeed in a very competitive environment.
The press box was filled with reporters. Steven Herbert came from the L.A. Times, Norm Bogan was there to report on the open wheel cars, Tim Kennedy and Jim Short, among many others brought a perspective honed by 50 years in the racing business. Bruce Flanders announced the race and brought a knowledge of circle track racing which made the program fun and interesting for the fans. Flanders is also known for his motorcycle racing and announcing and is one very nice guy. The price is right, the place is outstanding, and the people who run the show know what they are doing. You can find a great race every Saturday night, from March through November. No one should miss their famous J.C. Agajanian Turkey Night Midget race in November, where the best and brightest from the East Coast to the West Coast vie for honors in a race dating back to the '30's. For those interested in 1/8 mile dragracing, Irwindale offers races on Thursday nights and every Sunday.
Gone Racin' can be found at www.oilstick.com