Turkey Night update 2000-11-15

Irwindale, Calif. - - The acknowledged "granddaddy" of all Midget Car races, the race that Car & Driver Magazine rated among the "Top 10 Racing Events" of all time, the "other" race that all Indy 500 winners crave winning … The 60th Home...

Irwindale, Calif. - - The acknowledged "granddaddy" of all Midget Car races, the race that Car & Driver Magazine rated among the "Top 10 Racing Events" of all time, the "other" race that all Indy 500 winners crave winning … The 60th Home Depot Turkey Night Grand Prix for USAC Midgets is just around the bend. Thursday, November 23 is the date, and Irwindale Speedway is the place.

The most coveted title in Midget Car Racing will once again be on the line. "Turkey Night Winner" simply resonates with the realization of the men who have proudly worn that title. Forty men, among them Roy Russing, Danny Oakes, Bill Vukovich, Johnny Parsons, Joe Garson, Tony Bettenhausen, A.J. Foyt, Mel Kenyon, Sam Sessions, Parnelli Jones, Bubby Jones, Rick Goudy, Ronnie Shuman, Brent Kaeding, Stan Fox, Billy Boat, Jay Drake, Chuck Gurney, and Jason Leffler, have won this eminent event that first ran at the great Gilmore Stadium in 1934.

Its fifty fast and furious miles, one hundred laps around the banked Irwindale Speedway half-mile … Lead that last lap and your name is forever inscribed in the logbook of the legendary.

Tony Stewart lead the second-to-last lap last year but an oil pump drive belt put paid to his chance for the title. Jason Leffler, in an identical car roared past into the lead and the into the history books. Both young men will be back, Stewart for revenge (and a win) and Leffler to attempt to match the record of his hero, the great Parnelli Jones who won this race in 1964 and '66. Along with them, fifty-plus other top USAC Midget drivers (including national Champion Kasey Kahne, and 1999 Turkey night winner Jay Drake) will all be looking for the win and that prestigious title. Tough race? Perhaps the toughest ever.

This year, in addition to the excitement of the race itself, Irwindale Speedway's management has invited all of the twenty-two living Turkey Night winners back to the track for a special on-site turkey luncheon and a 5:00 p.m. autograph session with the fans. "We expect at least fourteen Turkey Night winners to join us on Thursday," said VP/COO Bob DeFazio. "It will be a tribute to these driving heroes and a real treat for all of the fans."

Of course, last year's Turkey Night winner, Jason Leffler will be at the track racing, as will 1999 winner Jay Drake, and the 1963 and 1975 winner Mel Kenyon. Stan Fox, Parnelli Jones, Tony Simon, Kevin Olson, Brent Kaeding, Chuck Gurney, Rick Goudy, Jordan Hermansader, Bubby Jones, Danny Oakes, Ronnie Shuman, and Billy Boat have all indicated that they would be at Irwindale for the festivities.

Also on the agenda for Turkey Night is the induction of four new members into the National Midget Racing Hall of Fame. A special ceremony following the Winners Luncheon will see Johnny Baldwin, Ken Brenneman, Jack London, and Roy Russing's names all go into the Hall. None of the inductees are alive, but family members will be on hand to accept the honors for their famous loved ones.

As a special treat, the Hall of Fame's complete collection of all 74 member's plaques will be seen by the public (and many of the honored drivers!) for the first time. Hall Executive Director Ed Watson will bring the traveling exhibit to Irwindale Speedway where fans and the drivers alike will be able to admire the beautiful brass plaques.

Fans are urged to get their tickets early as well as to come out to the Speedway early to get a good look at the cars and drivers as they prepare and qualify for the 60th running of the Turkey Night GP. A USAC TQ Midget race is also on the card for the evening which will pit many of the new and upcoming drivers against one another on the fast 1/3-mile inner oval at Irwindale. Gates open at 4:00 p.m. and there's plenty to do (for example: a free live band, free vintage racing car show, practice, qualifying, the Alta Dena Milk Chugs autograph session at 5:00 p.m., great people-watching, LugNut Junior's antics, etc.) right up to "showtime" at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for this truly historic night of racing are $30.00 for adults and $10.00 for kids and are available at all the usual places including www.tickets.com, (626) 358-1100, or in person at the on-site box office.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series USAC
Drivers Tony Stewart , Jason Leffler , Billy Boat , Parnelli Jones , Kasey Kahne , Jay Drake , Johnny Parsons , Tony Bettenhausen , A.J. Foyt