Rose Parade float to attempt record run at Irwindale

Irwindale, Calif. - - They're Baaaaack …. Last year when the 12,500-lb., 17-foot tall, 18-foot wide "golden goose" sped around the Speedway at a mind-bending 16.937 mile-per-hour average speed everyone present gasped in amazement and made a...

Irwindale, Calif. - - They're Baaaaack …. Last year when the 12,500-lb., 17-foot tall, 18-foot wide "golden goose" sped around the Speedway at a mind-bending 16.937 mile-per-hour average speed everyone present gasped in amazement and made a mental note that they had been present to witness one of the greatest moments ever in speed runs, a record that would perhaps stand forever in the annals of modern transportation history as the fastest ½-mile oval lap every set by an official Rose Parade float.

What no one who was on hand on that historic night took into account was the competitiveness of the builders of the track's nearest neighbor city to the north. There Tim Estes owner of Fiesta Floats located in Duarte, California, had already been making plans to blow past his old record from the day after it was set.

The City of Duarte / City of Hope float, all 6.25 tons of it, driven by Tom Gaffney, co-piloted by Frank Deckard and bravely ridden by the Mayor of Duarte, Dr. Bob Davey, two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Rodger Ward, KFWB traffic reporter Jeff Baugh, and Irwindale's own PA announcer Bruce "reporting directly from the float" Flanders swooped majestically around the wide ½-mile circuit to a world record (officially clocked by the track's AMB timing and scoring system) speed of 16.937 miles per hour.

The 2000 Rose Parade float depicted a mother duck and her ducklings, aerodynamic shapes but hardly racing images (still, when that Godzilla-sized ganderette came by the elevated starter's stand at about 20 miles an hour and right at eye-level with the flagman it was an awesome sight), this year's 2001 float subject will be a much more appropriate "Soap Box" derby-type racer. "We are really serious about this record … We want it … We want to put it out of reach for other float companies … This will be an all-out record run on Saturday," the hulking Estes was heard to promise.

"Every Rose Parade float builder goes back to work on January 2 and starts laying down plans for the next year's float," Estes indicated. "It was the same with this record … All the way back up Buena Vista (heading back to their hangar-like construction shops about mile and half from the Speedway) we were talking about how we could make the float go faster down the straights and track better through the turns … We were just stoked at the idea of breaking our own record even before the ink was dry on the official timing certificate."

That's October 14 at Irwindale Speedway … Don't miss this date with speed history. And, oh yes, we'll be running a little USAC Silver Crown Championship race, a Western States Sprint Car race (for the title no less!), and a special $5000+ purse for the track's regular NASCAR Grand American Modifieds, all as support events to the closed course record run attempt.

NOTE: As a footnote to history, Bruce Flanders, the track's intrepid announcer must be here given credit for coming up with this record run idea in the first place and Frank Deckard, an all-round good guy, former track volunteer, former track employee, and employee of Fiesta Floats for being brave enough to bring the idea to Tim Estes. Tim Estes is in a class by himself … It is hard to underestimate his super-competitive spirit, as the floats that his company builds for the TOURNAMENT of Roses Parade so beautifully and winningly prove.

And man's quest for speed has only just begun … (again) …

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Series General
Drivers Rodger Ward