IRL: Billy Boat returns to Irwindale

Boat seeks fourth different venue triumph Indy Racing League and Indianapolis 500 veteran Billy Boat of Phoenix, Ariz. returns to the USAC Midget Car wars Thursday night at Irwindale (CA) Speedway as he will compete in the 61st running of the ...

Boat seeks fourth different venue triumph

Indy Racing League and Indianapolis 500 veteran Billy Boat of Phoenix, Ariz. returns to the USAC Midget Car wars Thursday night at Irwindale (CA) Speedway as he will compete in the 61st running of the famed 100-lap "Turkey Night Grand Prix" presented by K & N Filters.

Driving the Van Buerden Insurance/Advanced Racing Suspension Gaerte/Drinan fielded by John Lawson of Fresno, Calif., Boat will be seeking his fourth consecutive victory in the event, having won in his last three starts in 1995-1996-1997, all with Lawson. Amazingly his three consecutive victories came at three different venues and Irwindale was not among them! In 1995 he won at Bakersfield (CA) Speedway, in 1996 he won at Perris (CA) Auto Speedway and in 1997 he won at Ventura (CA) Raceway, all dirt tracks.

No other driver in the 60 previous runnings of the event has won at three different tracks, let alone four, and Mel Kenyon is the only driver to win the race on both dirt and pavement, taking the 1963 classic at Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif. (dirt) and the 1975 running at the old 605 Speedway in Irwindale (paved).

A Boat victory would still leave him four victories shy of Ron Shuman's seemingly untouchable race record of eight wins. Shuman is the only driver to win four consecutive "Turkey Night Grand Prix" features, from 1979-1982 at Ascot Park, but also scored wins in 1984 and 1987 at Ascot and 1992 and 1993 at Bakersfield.

In 1995 Boat set the all-time record for consecutive single-series USAC victories at 11 on his way to winning the Western Midget Car Championship. In 1996 he won the prestigious "Copper World Classic" Midget race at Phoenix, Ariz.

The 1998 Indianapolis 500 pole winner scored an Indy-car victory at Texas Motor Speedway in 1998 and finished third in the 1999 Indianapolis 500.

Practice for the "Turkey Night Grand Prix" classic begins at 3 pm Thursday, with racing set to start at 7. The Western Sprint Car Series is also part of the activities, with a 40-lap feature on tap on the 1/2-mile paved oval.

-USAC-

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About this article
Series IndyCar , USAC
Drivers Billy Boat