Irwindale 2003 Banquet notes

Irwindale, CA.- Ten racing series that compete regularly for track points on the half or third-mile tracks at Irwindale Speedway completed an eight-month season during October. Drivers and teams were honored at the track banquet, attended by a crowd ...

Irwindale 2003 Banquet notes

Irwindale, CA.- Ten racing series that compete regularly for track points on the half or third-mile tracks at Irwindale Speedway completed an eight-month season during October. Drivers and teams were honored at the track banquet, attended by a crowd over 600 on November 22. Following is a brief summary of each series during 2003 and special award winners.

SUPER LATE MODELS: Rip Michels won his second consecutive series championship in his Ladco/Pick Your Part Chevy Monte Carlo. It was his fourth track title (his first was in a Grand American Modified). Rip has won 37 features-the most by any driver in the five-year history of the track. He won 10 of the 18 Jani-King SLM mains during 2003. Rip also became the 2003 NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series Sunbelt Region Champion. Rookie of the Year Kevin O'Neil finished ninth in this tough class.

MILLER LITE BIG TEN CHALLENGE: This 10-race series within the 18-race SLM championship chase went to NASCAR Winston West and Southwest Series veteran Greg Pursley. He set out to win this title and its additional $5,000 first place check. His plan came together and he won four of the ten events and finished second three times.

LATE MODELS: Todd Burns won his second consecutive Auto Club of Southern California championship in his Villa Roma Sausage Monte Carlo. Todd had ten victories and 15 top fives in 16 point races. His average finishing position was 1.4, discounting a mechanical failure in the season opener. Todd also won the Sunbelt Region of the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Racing Series ShorTrack Division, as well as the overall ShorTrack National Championship, which consists of seven regions and hundreds of drivers. Rookie of the Year was Andrew Myers, who placed tenth in points.

SUPER STOCKS: Lee Ladd, 65, strung six feature wins in a row in his Ladco Camaro to start the Vista Paint Super Stock season. He led the point parade all the way in a 13-race campaign. Lee's tally included seven firsts and three seconds. He set fastest qualifying time on eight occasions in this car-abundant division. His second Irwindale track title followed his 1999 Mini Stock championship. Rookie of the year was Eric Sunness.

GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: Second generation driver Andrew Phipps won the championship and GAM rookie of the year title. The son of many-time Saugus Speedway champion Dave Phipps drove the Ladco Chevy in which Rip Michels won his GAM championship before moving on to Super Late Models. Andrew won three features and had an average finishing postion of 2.3 in the ten-race season. RofY-Phipps.

LEGEND CARS: Tom Landreth faced stiff competition on the third-mile track from a handful of teenage "young gun" rookies in the King Taco Legend Cars. He emerged with his second Legends championship after a 12-race season in which 51 drivers took a green and five different winners took the maximum 50 points for a feature triumph. The championship battle between runner-up Brent Jones (a point leader for weeks) went down to the final checker and Tom prevailed by eight-points. Rookie of the year was teen Austin Grabowski, fifth in final points, by 20 points over sixth-place Jeremy Wood.

MINI STOCKS: Fred Adams recorded his first IS track title on the third-mile by a mere two-points. Fred drove a green Tucker Tire Co. Ford Pinto to one victory in the nine- race season. Remarkably, Fred completed all 280 laps of Mini Stock competition in pursuit of title. The crowded Minis field usually had almost 30 cars at every race. Rookie of the Year went to fifth place Robert Miller by 16-points over eighth place Mike Morales.

FIGURE 8s: Chris Williamson, driving his own winged Figure 8 special, took over the Pick-Your-Part Figure 8 point lead at the halfway point in the eight (it figures) race season. He finished either first or second in the final five events, despite the wild and woolly nature of the Figure 8s. He won by 62 points. No RoY was named.

ULTRA WHEEL SUPER TRUCKS: Champion Dave Blankenship finished inside the top five at every IS race in 2003 and won twice. Five drivers won a feature and 14 drivers competed in all ten races at IS. This popular and competitive spec truck series also races at other tracks. Dave's Zeacom-backed Chevy truck was in the thick of the three-wide, three-deep action all year. Rookie of the Year was Cody Brown. Ron Peterson won the special Ultra Wheels reward for winning the three non-point race mini-series following the regular point season.

WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: Aaron Staudinger won three of the eight WCPT spec truck series features at IS and was in the mix at each race. He also placed second twice in his Pick Your Part Chevy during the first full season for the successor of the American Race Truck series that disbanded in mid-season last year. Truck builders Josh and his father John Hulsebosch quickly formed WCPT and completed 2002 season and the series is growing the series steadily. Rookie of the Year was Richie Altman.

Other awards presented at the IS banquet went to Paul Copenhaver (2003 Crew Chief of the Year), Legend Car driver/IS pit announcer Wendi Westbrook (Team Player of the Year) and to Andrew Phipps (2003 Sportsman of the Year).

The 2003 racing season at IS concluded in November with nine hours of racing televised live nationally on Speed Channel. The inaugural $500,000 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown (November 6-8) assembled the top 30 Grand National drivers from Busch North and Winston West, plus the top 40 drivers from the four touring NASCAR Elite Divisions (Midwest, SE, NW and SW). They raced four 50-lap mains (two per division) Friday in four hours of live-TV, and three more hours on Saturday for 100 and 125 lap features, won by Ron Breese, Jr, of DeKalb, IL, (Elite Div.) and W/W driver Austin Cameron (GN Div.).

The 63rd running of the USAC "Turkey Night" Night Grand Prix Thanksgiving evening brought the IS season to a close. Ryan Pace won the off-TV USAC Ford Focus 30-lap race. Speed Channel televised two hours of live racing nationally from 8:00-10:00 p.m local time. Michael Lewis, from Indiana, won the 40-lap USAC Western States Sprint Car main and Dave Steele, of Tampa, FL, dominated the 100-lap USAC National and W/S Midget feature. Look for the sixth season of racing at IS to commence in March.

<pre> FINAL POINTS (Note-(R) denotes Rookie)

 FIGURE 8s: GRAND AMERICAN MODIFIEDS: Chris Williamson 372 Andrew Phipps (R) 474 Dan Burns 310 Travis Thirkettle 408 Rusty Stewart 288 Rod Johnson 406 Steve Stewart 284 John Watkinson 394 Ron Chaney 270 Tim Morse 368 Earl Cox 268 Robert Rice 350 Tony Curtis 256 Joe Ruggles 324 Billy Ziemann 244 Dennis Schlarbaum 314 Russ Granville 224 Eddie Ernst 286 Harry Kuenniger 184 Roger Carufel, Jr 270 
 LATE MODELS: LEGEND CARS: Todd Burns 736 Tom Landreth 542 Scott Youngren 626 Brent Jones 534 Mike Price 584 Bob Landreth 456 Tim Huddleston 580 Cory Miles 420 Dave Hessing 566 Austin Grabowski (R) 386 Doug McComb 564 Jeremy Wood (R) 366 Jess Flores 550 Bill Everett 360 Tony Green 482 Steve Twilligear 350 Mike Johnson 464 David Ross (R) 346 Andrew Myers (R) 460 Mark Gaiser 340 
 MILLER LITE BIG TEN CHALLENGE MINI STOCKS: Greg Pursley 438 Fred Adams 376 Rip Michels 408 Tony Lawler 374 Tony Bruncati 388 Kevin Bernhardt 334 Dan Moore 360 Greg Tucker 308 Brandon Loverock 332 Robert Miller (R) 290 Russell White 300 Eric Reed 288 Stephan Sadler 282 Richard Boker 278 Nathan Wulff 262 Mike Morales (R) 274 Kevin O'Neil (R) 252 Steve Rogers 270 Gary Jenkins 252 Robert Lovas 240 
 WEST COAST PRO TRUCKS: SUPER LATE MODELS: Aaron Staudinger 334 Rip Michaels 796 Jeff Williams 272 Tony Bruncati 746 Craig Baker 238 Greg Pursley 706 Michael Thomas 234 Dan Moore 634 Dave Lyon 214 Brandon Loverock 578 Neil Conrad 212 Russell White 548 Dennis Bennett 204 Stephan Sadler 506 Jim Satterfield 202 Nathan Wulff 494 Kirk Knostman 200 Gary Jenkins 432 
 SUPER STOCKS: ULTRA WHEEL SUPER TRUCKS: Lee Ladd 562 Dave Blankenship 464 Greg Benner 484 Carson Woods 412 Chris Houwen 480 Ryan Arciero 382 Danny Renko 464 Jim McGill 364 Steve Gilmore 458 Ron Peterson 358 Brian Harrell 444 Jim Kondziela 340 Larry Sampson 442 Pat Mintey, Jr 294 Kenny Brown 398 Frank Steiner 282 Curtis White 350 Greg Adler 280 Robin Bourgeois 342 Dan Moore 258 

-Article By Tim Kennedy
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