"Fan Appreciation Night" -- a $5.00 general admission with drawings for many great prizes -- and a four-division racing event, occurred as planned Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. It was transformed into an evening of remembrance and ...
"Fan Appreciation Night" -- a $5.00 general admission with drawings for many great prizes -- and a four-division racing event, occurred as planned Saturday at Irwindale Speedway. It was transformed into an evening of remembrance and reaffirmation of the American national spirit -- following terrorist attacks Tuesday using hijacked airliners - and it attracted a full house of 6,300 spectators.
Brandon Loverock won the 100-lap Food 4 Less Super Late Model feature for his initial major triumph in his two and a half years of racing at Irwindale. Sean Woodside clinched the $10,000 Miller Lite Big Ten Challenge top prize officially in event ten of the series within the SLM series. Dean Kuhn captured his tenth Grand American Modified main event of the season and his first Irwindale championship.
Two truck classes also competed. Josh Hulsebosch, 20, won his career first main event in the American Race Trucks 75-lap race. He held off series point-leader and many-time feature-winner Deyon Young. Ron Peterson took the Mechanix Wear Speed Truck 50-lap event that received the final checker of the night after 35 laps.
Track executives Jim Williams and Bob DeFazio donated all proceeds from ticket sales to the American Red Cross and Fireman's Relief Fund to aid those organizations in Washington, D.C. and New York City. American Race Truck series drivers and officials donated their entire purse and pay checks ($5,000) to the American Red Cross. Many race teams and sponsors, including Frahm Dodge who wrote a check for $1500, also donated money. The Sultans car club, on hand at the track to show off their custom cars took up a quick collection among their members and handed in a check for $600.
Drivers from all four divisions went through the grandstands and suites with their helmets at 6:30 and invited fans to drop money into their helmets. The Irwindale fans responded by spontaneously contributing over $10,000 to the Red Cross. The total night's contribution was estimated at $35,000+.
Track management, as proposed by Pat Patterson, V.P. Sales/Marketing, bought 6,000 candles and distributed them to fans and racers as they entered the track. At 10:40 p.m. track lights were turned down and fans stood in the packed grandstand as race team members came from the pits and stood on the front straight. All held the 6,000 lighted candles in a moving tribute to victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
The patriotic ceremonies included the playing of a bagpipe by a member of the Pasadena Fire Department. Recordings of "God Bless America" and "I'm Proud to be an American" by singer Lee Greenwood followed. Fans unfurled a large American flag in the grandstand and many waved smaller flags and wore patriotic apparel. Chants of "USA, USA" arose spontaneously from the grandstand. Fans departed following the ten-minute ceremony with a renewed patriotic zeal and many thanked the track staff for their concern and efforts.
During the races all race trucks carried American flags. Many race teams applied American flags to the hoods or roofs of their vehicles. The evening was unlike any event ever held in the history of the three-year old track. Track VP/COO DeFazio earlier in the week had said, "It doesn't do any good for the race track to remain dark Saturday night." The event Saturday at Irwindale provided fans and race teams a chance to do something positive as an involved family or group. The event raised a significant sum for the designated charities that will provide needed disaster relief.
The featured race of the evening was the 28-car SLM 100-lap main. Fastest qualifier Sean Woodside was forced to start last instead of tenth because he had used unbranded tires in the trophy dash. The 2001 SLM track champion had a 24-point advantage over Tommy Fry entering the race and his ninth place finish versus Fry's third place gave Woodside the Miller Lite championship by 12 points-382 to 370. James Bruncati led the first eight laps. Rip Michels came from eighth starting spot and used inside passes to move forward quickly. He took command on lap nine with an inside move in turn four and stretched his advantage to half a straight by lap 36. Shawn Brink's car then broke a suspension component and hit the third turn crash-wall. Michels ran over debris and flattened his two right side tires. He pitted and relinquished the lead to ninth starter David Gilliland.
Gilliland dueled Loverock during mid-race, but he had expanded his advantage to 20-yards on lap 96. At that point he slowed suddenly in the fourth turn with a misfiring engine and stopped in turn one with a broken camshaft. Loverock assumed the point and paced two yellow flag laps. Another green, white, checkered flag followed and Loverock barely held off Tony Green by 0.212 seconds. Fry was third, 0.306 seconds back. Nathan Wulff and J. Bruncatti completed the top five. Brent Reynolds, in fifth place, cut a right front tire on lap 78 and hit the crash-wall. Loverock said, "This is my first win at Irwindale and I had to wait two and a half years for it. My car was good on long runs. Gilliland had bad luck. This win couldn't come on a better night."
Kuhn started second and led all 35 laps of the GAM feature. Roger Carufel, Jr took second on lap 29 and closed quickly during the final two laps to finish 0.336 seconds behind Kuhn. Steve Luecht took third. Travis Thirkettle and Henry Ford were fourth and fifth in the 15-car field.
The 24-trucks American Race Trucks 75-lapper was the first main. Dave Lyon led lap one. Mark Schilling took over and paced laps two through 21. Fourth starter Hulsebosch, the fifth-ranked driver in ART Southwest Region points, assumed the lead on lap 22 and held off second place Deyon Young, the ART S.W Region point leader, from laps 36 to the finish. Young trailed by 0.221 seconds.
Randy Nelson, Michael Thomas and Jeff Williams followed. "Having these races back to back has really helped me a lot. Thanks to Robbie Brand (fellow driver) for all his help and to my mom and dad and girl friend," Hulsebosch said. Despite the fact he would receive no money from the ART donated purse, Hulsebosch said that it didn't matter.
MW Speed Truck winner Ron Peterson started seventh in the 22-truck field and led laps 11-35. David Hartsock paced the first ten circuits and trailed by 3.925 seconds at the end. Darren Young, Nathan Mirth and Randy Brown followed.
During lap six ninth running Chris Hines, the point leader, spun out on the backstretch. His truck received a solid hit in the right side by passing Jacob Hodges. Hines restarted and drove around the east turn and through the infield to position his truck behind that of Richard Franz, who had been right behind Hines in tenth place. Hines' truck turned right, hit the Franz truck and forced the right front into the turn three crash-wall. The RF fender of the Franz truck was ripped off and officials immediately black-flagged Hines off the track.
Both Hines and Franz exited the track at the first turn and officials stopped Hines to reprimand him on the pit road. A wrecker was summoned to remove his truck and Hines, from Tempe, AZ, was escorted from the pits by track security staff. Officials fined Hines a reported $1,000 and banned him for the balance of the season.
GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: Fast Time: Dean Kuhn, 18.398.
Dash: Travis Thirkettle, Roger Carufel, Jr, Ernie Ernst, Steve Luecht, Mike Bush, Kuhn.
Main: Kuhn, Carufel, Luecht, Thirkettle, Henry Ford, John Watkinson III, Ernst, Tim Morse, Mike Trottochau, Jeff Scott, Andy Schoening, Garrett Yamada, Jamie Barnett, Mike Bush, Dennis Eckert.
MECHANIX WEAR SPEED TRUCKS: Fast Time: Chris Hines, 19.278.
Dash: Jimmy Perry, Gary Bryant, Doug Ingraham, Rob Sayers, John Holmes, Bob Larson.
Main: Ron Peterson, David Hartsock, Darren Young, Nathan Mirth, Randy Brown, Dan DiGiacomo, Troy Decuir, Andy Bargaehr, Jeff Davis, Jim VanGordon, Kenny Smith, Perry, Scott Saunders, Kerry Steen, Dave Lowenstein, Bryant, Ingraham, Sayers, Hines, Richard Franz, Jacob Hodges, Donny Goodwin.
AMERICAN RACE TRUCKS: Fast Time: Dave Lyon, 20.549.
Main: Josh Hulsebosch, Deyon Young, Randy Nelson, Michael Thomas, Jeff Williams, Aaron Staudinger, Bret Carlson, Terry Young, Jim Satterfield, Charles Carder, Kirk Knostman, Mike Pennington, Corey Taylor, Robbie Brand, Lyon, Mark Schilling, Stewart Spring, Val Cummings, Michael may, Dennis Bennett, Steve Dyer, Dale Cromwell, Chris Johnson, Tom Taylor.
FOOD 4 LESS SUPER LATE MODELS: Fast Time: Sean Woodside, 18.091.
Dash: Rip Michels, Woodside, David Gilliland, Nick DeFazio, Tony Bruncati, David Pook.
Main: Brandon Loverock, Tony Green, Tommy Fry, Nathan Wulff, James Bruncati, Tony Bruncati, Kazuto Yanagawa, Tim Woods III, Woodside, David Pook, John Bojorquez, Keith Spangler, Terry Limberopoulos, David Quartaro, Dave Eshleman, Dan O'Donnell, Gilliland, Brent Reynolds, Ray Hooper, Jr, Chris Straka, Rod Johnson, Doug Renno, Russell White, Rip Michels, Jeff Michels, Shawn Brink, Nick DeFazio, Bobby James.