Irwindale, Calif. - - Irwindale Speedway's ½-mile oval will be busy on Saturday, January 13. No, the official racing season doesn't open until March 10 with an ASA 300-miler but there'll be plenty of competition as students of the 12 high schools of the ISAAQ (Innovative Schools Advancing Air Quality) converge for a special practice session at the Speedway.

Over one hundred young pre-engineering students from Alhambra, Bell Gardens, Canyon, Centennial, Diamond Bar, Lakewood, South El Monte, Los Altos, Redondo Shores, and Schurr High Schools will be assembling at Irwindale Speedway to test their innovative designs for solar-powered bicycles and electric-powered mini-racers all in the quest to build the non-polluting "ZEV" (Zero Emissions Vehicle) of the (near) future.

Co-sponsored by the South Coast Air Quality Management District, more than 20 student-built and driven vehicles will race both for speed and endurance. "Last year one of the teams came close to setting a World's Record here at Irwindale, and we think that we can break it if everything goes right on Saturday," Franz remarked.

"Being able to practice and compete at a nationally-known and respected motorsport facility like Irwindale Speedway adds greatly to the impact of this program," said Bob Franz, a science teacher at Los Altos High and one of the organizers of the event. "Last year the students didn't know what to expect, this year the buzz is all about competing on the same track that so many famous racing drivers have run on. The beautiful, wide, ½-mile oval at Irwindale is a far cry from a bumpy shopping center parking lot, and the paved pits are perfect for us with plenty of electrical outlets for tools and battery chargers."

"Last year's ZEV 2000" event at Irwindale was a great success, we expect this year's edition (to be scheduled in April on a date as yet to be determined) to draw even more interested students and teachers," Franz added. "Making the facility available at no cost to these young students is a most commendable community activity, the Speedway management has gone out of its way to be accommodating to this grassroots event."

Speedway Vice President and CEO, Bob DeFazio sees the use as a good investment in the future. "We really enjoy having this event at Irwindale, it not only brings a lot of recognition to the track but to our city as well, Irwindale is a very proud city and this kind of area-wide high school involvement is something that the civic leaders see as very beneficial to our community image, as do we."

When word of Irwindale's proposed 1/8-mile Street Legal Dragstrip got to the ISAAQ there was immediate interest in producing electrically-powered machines to compete on that facility. "Irwindale Speedway has, you'll pardon the pun, really 'Sparked' tremendous interest in these students," Franz concluded. They see themselves in a more professional light, they take more pride in what they are doing knowing that they are taken seriously by professional operations like the Speedway."

The practice event will not be open to the general public, however interested parties will be allowed access to the Pits and Pit Grandstands at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday via the Pit Gates at the western end of the facility.

Irwindale Speedway will kick off its 2001 season early with the first-ever West Coast American Speed Association (ASA) Stock Car race on March 10. From there on its full speed ahead with 38 nights (all Saturdays but for the last one) of action-packed family-friendly short track racing. The Speedway is located on Live Oak Avenue just west of the 605 Freeway in Irwindale, California.