What A Tripp! 2001 Modified 4 Champ Crowned Irwindale Speedway Saturday, October 6, 2001 Guy Tripp became Irwindale Speedway's fifth 2001 weekly racing season champion with at smart and conservative drive in the Modified 4's that kept him out...
What A Tripp! 2001 Modified 4 Champ Crowned
Saturday, October 6, 2001
Guy Tripp became Irwindale Speedway's fifth 2001 weekly racing season champion with at smart and conservative drive in the Modified 4's that kept him out of trouble and in the points. While others skirmished and spun, the enthusiastic crowd of 5,652 watched as Saugus resident, Tripp held his line and his point lead and shrewdly watched his closest contender Riverside's Tim Ross stay in his mirrors all the way through the 35-lap contest on the third mile.
Steve Rogers (Glen Avon) and his neighbor from Fontana, Richard Boker, were the duo to watch for the 13 laps as they ran in close formation at the front of the pack. On lap 14 Greg Tucker (Ojai) got tired of running in third and bolted past Boker into second place. Ten laps later Tucker took the lead for good while Rodgers and Bellflower's Terry Limberopoulos swapped places behind. Two laps later Boker decided that he wanted second place (or better) and blew past Limberopoulos. At the finish it was Tucker, Boker, Limberopoulos, Rogers, Pat Ackely (Huntington Beach), Irwindale's 1999 Mini-Stock champ Lee "Mr. Thousand Oaks" Ladd, Rod Hicks (Yucipa), and Tripp who earned just the right amount of points to make him the 2001 Champeen.
In the post-race press conference Tripp told reporters that his car had see the winner's circle before, it was friend (and competitor) Lee Ladd's 1999 season-winning Pinto. Ladd, by the way, acquitted himself very well in the night's action aboard his venerable Toyota coming from the 24 starting position to 5th place in the 35-lap main. Tripp called 2001 at Irwindale his, "Cinderella season," indicating that he and his small crew had started the season off, " Just to have fun," but then, " We had a good finish and won a couple of races and found ourselves in the middle of a great points race for a championship title."
2000 Champ in the same division, Bob Reed (Riverside) who accompanied Tripp to the interview was proud of his prediction, made at last year's Champion's Banquet that, "Guy Tripp would be the person to beat for the 2001 championship." Tripp seemed more surprised than Reed when the prognostication came true.
In the featured Mechanix Wear Speed Truck 100, the longest race for that touring division scheduled at Irwindale in 2001, a rocky start precluded an exciting race which saw the race leader running his fuel cell dry with only 4 miles left to go and Fullerton's Nathan Mirth taking a hard-won victory after a very steady and smart drive that never had him out of the first five after lap 6.
A nasty-looking incident on lap one saw Donny Goodwin getting pinballed in a three-wide pack of traffic on the front straight which sent him clobbering into the turn one outer crash wall, ending up on his lid half way down to turn two in a very fractured racing truck. Luckily the race-stopping wreck was considerable harder on the machine than the man as young Goodwin stepped out of the wreck, shaken, maybe a little sore, but fully intact; which is much more than could be said for his mount.
When racing resumed the show turned pointedly to a two, and then three-man affair. There were 20 plus other MWSTrucks out there on the track, but unless you were one of those driver's immediate family members, a crewmember , or the spotter, you probably weren't watching any of them at all. The show was all the number 21 and 91 trucks with a special guest appearance by the number 10 truck.
The first fifty-four laps were all Andy Bargaehr (Covina) and Lee Hatch (formerly of Covina, now La Quinta). With Andy taking the high line and Lee the low. Round and round they went, catching lappers right left and center. Lee low, like we said, and Andy running fast at the front. How many times did Hatch knock at the door? No way of telling, at least twice a lap for sure. Then, on lap 58 Lee took the lead and put his heavy right foot to the floorboards and pulling away smartly until he had almost a straightaway lead (over 3 seconds) on Bargaehr who held on to second place for another 8 laps before his car failed him and his great race come to an untimely end on lap 67. Championship contender Troy Decuir (Moreno Valley), who had been running very nicely in third for most of the race thank you very much, did not need an engraved invitation to move up to second, a position that he hung onto until Nathan Mirth thought that it would be nice to have on lap 84.
Mirth tucked in behind former multi-time national Karting champ Hatch, and made himself very visible in the second slot looking for the slightest bobble or weakness that would let him get by Lee. Then on lap 92 Hatch slowed perceptibly as he passed the grandstands. A groan went up from the fans, Hatch wiggled his Speed Truck from side to side into turn one, the sure sign that he was trying to get that last drop of fuel into the pickup, but to no avail He was out of gas. Mirth went on to win, only to run dry on his cool-down lap on the way to victory circle. What a race, what a let-down for a stellar drive, what about a couple more gallons of high-test in the tank next time?
Mike Wright of Yucca Valley won the MSRA Pro4 Modified 30-lapper in good style, taking over the lead from Malibu's Jim Warden on lap 21 and never looking back. John Sereika (Beaumont) finished second, with Tim Clyde from neighboring Redlands close behind in third.
Point Leader Tom Landreth from Alta Loma showed that he's pretty serious about the season title by battling Canyon Country's Art Nevill from lap 4 on for the lead in the King Taco Legend Cars 35-lap main event on Saturday night. Landreth and Neville will come back to Irwindale on October 20 less than ten points apart and with a racing championship on the line. Ricky Wildman will remain in third place on the season with his only hope for a rookie season win, the hope that Landreth AND Nevill (no E on the end) will get the race date wrong in their Day-Runners and show up on Sunday at the track.
In the race the two above protagonists raced each other cleanly and well with Landreth inching away in traffic and Nevill catching right back up to him time after time. After the race Nevill admitted how difficult it would have been to attempt a pass on Landreth for the lead. Both were going around about as fast a Legend could be driven on that particular night on that particular track. Clean racing and good sportsmanship were the rules of their game and it showed on the track and in the winner's circle. They'll both be back for the big prize, bank on it. Don Ackers took third in the event, the San Gabriel resident running well and just down the track from the lead pair all race long.
STOP THE PRESSES! Here's your new headline: "Barefoot Billy Zieman Finally Wins a Figure 8 Race at Irwindale!" He was still sitting shoeless on the trunk of his racecar in the winner's circle signing autographs for the throng of people crowded around his car when they started turning off the track lights at almost midnight. Zieman, one of the guys who really has helped to bring top-rate Figure 8 racing to Irwindale, finally won one! And it was a doozy! Fourteen hot machines took to the modified Figure 8 course for a race far better seen than described. It was 20 breathtaking laps of motoring madness that rampaged around the Irwindale infield in a blur of breathtaking near-misses and hard hits. No one was hurt, oh a couple of cars were sent to the automobile hospital in critical-but-stable condition, and the fans in the stand got some great breathing and holding their breath exercise. One more wild one of these on the calendar: October 20, with a Destruction Derby thrown in just for good measure. See Ya!
As the capper to the night's activities movie stuntman Tommy Trubble was on scene to make a 150-foot-long, 50 foot-high flight through three humongess fireballs ultimately landing on one of 15 cars parked side by side in the Irwindale infield. Suffice it to say that there was "Trubble" in Paradise (aka Irwindale Speedway). Not only did Tommy hit his mark, he caromed off of the sixth car in line, catapulted into the end one, and then did a flying reverse back layout landing smack on the asphalt and bending his full size sedan almost in two. If Irwindale would have had judges like those gymnastic events on TV do there would have been a lot of 9.7's, 9.8's and ten-oh's held up for the artistic style and showmanship. As is his trademark, Tommy jumped out, unscathed, grabbed the PA mike and asked the crowd how they liked it. He might have know the answer, it was a chorus of rousing cheers and standing applause. He used the opportunity to let all and sundry know that, the next time he was at Irwindale, his stunt would be even more spectacular -- We have his word on that!