Irwindale Float Speed Record

Irwindale, Calif. - - The world's record books got a new category on Saturday night, October 16 as an actual Rose Parade float tore flat-out around the ½-mile track at Irwindale Speedway posting an official closed-course speed record of 16.937...

Irwindale, Calif. - - The world's record books got a new category on Saturday night, October 16 as an actual Rose Parade float tore flat-out around the ½-mile track at Irwindale Speedway posting an official closed-course speed record of 16.937 miles-per-hour on the brand-new banked automobile racing facility located only about 9 miles from the sight of the annual New Year's Day parade in Pasadena.

The City of Duarte-City of Hope float entitled "Life's Celebrations", all 6 and a quarter tons, 35 feet long, 18 feet wide and 17 feet tall; of it wailed around the wide "Mini-Superspeedway" to the enthusiastic cheers of a large crowd who had turned out to see another kind of wheeled history made as the Coors Silver Bullet / Silver Crown Cars of the United States Auto Club made their first-ever appearance in the Los Angeles area.

"It was an amazing sight with the duck's head streaking by the within inches of the starter's stand," said track GM, Bob DeFazio. "This started out as sort of a inside joke, 'Hey, here's a wild idea ... Why don't we ...' At a staff brainstorming session, and quickly mushroomed into a serious (as serious as a 6 ton, 17-foot duck powered by a 350 cubic-inch Chevy V-8, speeding around a race track can be) effort. Tim Estes and everyone working for him at Fiesta Floats took the whole thing very sincerely ... It wasn't until I was driving in to the track at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning and encountered the float lumbering down Live Oak that it struck me ... We were really going to do this!"

Ably driven by Rose Parade veteran drivers Tom Gaffney and Frank Deckard, the record-setting run had an enthusiastic and varied set of riders on broad to take part in the historic fun. The mayor of Duarte, California, Doctor Bob Davey lead the list; accompanied by Elizabeth Bagwell representing the nearby City of Hope, Rodger Ward (two-time Indy 500 winner), Jeff Baugh (airborne traffic reporter for LA radio station KFWB), with Irwindale Speedway track announcer Bruce Flanders (who's off-hand staff meeting remark was the spark for the record run in the first place) completing the package doing running commentary for the fans from the float as it blazed around the Irwindale oval.

Certified by the track's hyper-accurate AMB electronic timing a scoring system, the record was witnessed by over 5,000 fans who were later treated to an open wheel driving clinic put on by young Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif. who wowed the crowd by convincingly winning two of the night's three main events including the featured 100-lapper for Silver Crown Cars. All told, it was a wonderfully colorful night for motorsports.

OFFICIAL SPECIFICATION SHEET CITY of DUARTE - CITY of HOPE 2000 ROSE PARADE FLOAT "Life's Celebrations"

Weight ..................................................... 12,500 lbs. Decorated Weight ........................................... 16,500 lbs. Number of Flowers .......................................... 80,000 Height ..................................................... 17 feet Length ..................................................... 35 feet Width ...................................................... 18 feet Number of Wheels ........................................... 8 Axles....................................................... 5 ton truck Motor....................................................... 350 Chevy (stroked to 383 cubic inches) Transmission ............................................... 350 Turbo Construction Time .......................................... 3 months Decoration Time .............................................3,750 hours

Number of TV viewers to see float (Jan 1, 2000) ...364 million

World's closed-course speed record holder ........16.937 MPH (Set 10.16.99 at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California)

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series General
Drivers Jason Leffler , Rodger Ward