WWS: Irwindale preview

Irwindale, Calif. - - There are 14 races in this year's NASCAR Winston West Championship Series and three of them run at Irwindale Speedway again this year. No other race track on the circuit can claim more than two "West" races and the fact that...

Irwindale, Calif. - - There are 14 races in this year's NASCAR Winston West Championship Series and three of them run at Irwindale Speedway again this year. No other race track on the circuit can claim more than two "West" races and the fact that over 20% of the year's races are at Irwindale Speedway makes this track one of, if not, the most important stops on the tour each year. And so it is that the Winston West wizards will come to Irwindale Speedway for the Food 4 Less 250 on Saturday July 21, with heightened expectations and a "This is NOT just another race." attitude.

Doing consistently well at Irwindale can do wonders for one's points tally, in fact many racers keep kind of a special "race series within a race series" set of points for the three races at IS. Right now, with one race down in the fantasy series Brendan Gaughan leads the imaginary Irwindale Championship. But he's got some strong opposition coming from about 25 other guys who all seem to feel that they've got a chance at the fantasy title too. Irwindale's July 21 event is set to give everyone a crack at the Las Vegas-domiciled driver.

Fans should be reminded that Winston West Series races feature exciting over-the-wall full-service pit stops during this 250-lap adventure in NASCAR action-excitement. 250 laps of flat-out racing is flat-out guaranteed to produce all the sights and scenes that Winston Cup and Busch TV events feature, but live, close-up and in person. Pit strategy, track position, who's got what left for lap 249. All right in front of Irwindale's close-up grandstand seats.

The NASCAR Winston West Series was born when NASCAR came to the West Coast and began sanctioning the Pacific Cost Late Model circuit in 1954. It has been known as Pacific Coast Late Model, Grand National West and Winston West Grand National. The 1998 season, which featured a tremendous outpouring of interest, was considered the beginning of a new era for the NASCAR Winston West Series. R.J. Reynolds has sponsored the series through its Winston brand since 1971. Reynolds' contribution to the point fund for the 2001 season will be $350,000.

The 2001 championship chase stretches from Phoenix, Ariz., in February to Irwindale, Calif., in November. Major western U.S. markets targeted by the series include Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City. The series visits tracks ranging in size from a 3/8-mile paved oval to a 2-mile superspeedway. The schedule features a balanced blend of tight short-track action and great superspeedway competition, along with a challenging road course.

Sharing the on-track honors on Saturday night will be Irwindale's own Automobile Club of Southern California Late Models. These scrapping stallions always put on a super show of their own and their booking with the "big boys" of NASCAR Winston West is no coincidence The Auto Club Late Models are a great showcase for some terrific young driving talent destined to be moving on up the racing ladder smartly and very soon!

SPECIAL REUNION EVENT: The public will have a chance to meet some of Winston West's living legends and to learn more about their exciting racing careers on Saturday afternoon at Irwindale as the first Winston West Stockcar Reunion is staged there by Racing News West publisher Tim Meyer.

1973 & 1966 NASCAR Winston West champion Jack McCoy, NASCAR Legend and '86 champion Hershel McGriff, '55 champion Danny Letner, '60 WWS champion Marvin Porter, "63 &'64 champion Ron Hornaday Sr. '00 champion Brendan Gaughan, '99 champion Sean Woodside, '97 champion Butch Gilliland, '91 &'92 champion Bill Sedgwick, '69, '70, '71, '72, '74, '75 champion Ray Elder and '78 champion Jimmy Insolo are just a few of the champion drivers expected to attend.

Joining These daring drivers, Ruben Garcia, Walt James, Jim Blomgren, Don Noels, John Krebs, Jack Sellers, Frank Secrist, Ron Esau, Mel Larson and Gary Johnson to name a few who will share highlights of their of memories racing stockcars throughout the west. This special event is the first reunion ever held for the Pacific Coast Late Model and the Winston West Series.

The reunion will also include a display of former stockcars: the 1952 Hudson fastback of Walt James and the 1970 #7 Dodge Daytona of Jack McCoy to name a few. The reunion will take place just prior to the NASCAR Winston West Food 4 Less 250.

All drivers, owners, sponsors, or crewmembers who competed in the Pacific Coast Late Model Series or the NASCAR Winston West Series are invited to attend. (For any and all reunion information please call Tim Meyer at 435-635-2257 -- Fax 435-635-2298 or e-mail: racingnewswest@hotmail.com)

Race tickets are on sale now for this sure-fire seat-filler. A call to (626) 358-1100 will secure tickets for the show as will a click on www.irwindalespeedway.com or a visit to the track's onsite ticket office.

Gates open at 4 pm with practice, qualifying, autographs, live band, and other pre-race attractions on tap and racing starts at 7pm. After the races the NASCAR Winston West pits are open to fans of all ages for up-close and personal encounters with the heroes of the event and a personal inspection of their mighty steeds.

Fans should be reminded that Saturday, July 21 is the third Saturday of the track's own annual "Christmas in July" participation in the Los Angeles County Fire Department and ABC7's "Spark of Love" toy drive. Toys collected at the Speedway and at Fire Stations across a five-county area are distributed to less fortunate youngsters during the holiday season through Children's Services of Los Angeles County.

At every race in July, firefighters will be on hand at the main gates of the Speedway to collect new, unwrapped toys from fans and competitors. Each toy will get the donor a $5.00 discount on admission for that night of racing. ABC7 in Los Angeles is the participating media partner and will be publicizing the track's involvement in the program. Last year the track collected over 2,000 toys during the month-long promotion, many of them racing-related.

-IS

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Ron Hornaday Jr. , Brendan Gaughan , Jack Sellers , Hershel McGriff , John Gary , Ruben Garcia