Kenyon retunrs to Irwindale for Turkey Night
Mel Kenyon of Lebanon, Ind. is one of only two drivers to win the prestigious "Turkey Night Grand Prix" Midget car classic in Irwindale, Calif. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his 1975 victory at Speedway 605, Mel will return to ...
Mel Kenyon of Lebanon, Ind. is one of only two drivers to win the prestigious "Turkey Night Grand Prix" Midget car classic in Irwindale, Calif. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his 1975 victory at Speedway 605, Mel will return to Irwindale to compete in the 60th running of the nation's longest-running short-track classic November 23! The race returned to Irwindale last year following the opening of the Irwindale Speedway, America's newest state-of-the-art short track facility. Jason Leffler was the winner. This year's Home Depot "Turkey Night Grand Prix" celebrates 60 years of racing history for a race which dates back to 1934. A 100-lap race caps the Thanksgiving Night activities on the 1/2-mile pavement, which concludes the 2000 USAC MCI WorldCom Midget Car Series and the 2000 USAC racing calendar. Kenyon is among the living former race winners invited to return for a special autograph session and introductions to those race fans attending the event, but decided to tow his #61 Gaerte/Stealth Midget along and try to add to his all-time USAC career-leading total of 111 Midget-Car feature victories. Mel will be seeking his 20th start in the "Turkey Night" spectacular. He won the 1963 running at famed Ascot Park in Gardena, Calif., then scored his second win in the 1975 event at the paved Speedway 605 in Irwindale, a 1/2-mile paved oval which operated from 1966-1977 just southeast of the new Irwindale track and across the 605 Freeway. He hasn't competed in the 100-lap feature since 1988 when he was 23rd at Ascot Park, but he recorded seconds in 1972 and 1977 and thirds in 1962, 1964, 1968 and 1971. Mel's only USAC Midget-Car appearances of 2000 included a late-June race at the Indianapolis Speedrome and a pair of outings at Indianapolis Raceway Park in August and September. He was competitive in the August 23 "Mel Kenyon Classic" but finished 19th. In recent years he has devoted more time to helping his son Brice in his Midget-racing career. Brice is currently in New Zealand for five months of Midget racing. "It was only a couple of days ago, wasn't it," said Mel from home in Lebanon. "I haven't been to "Turkey Night" since 1990 when Ascot closed, but I'm looking forward to it. In 1975 I remember we were preparing two cars for A.J. Foyt and I to race in New Zealand that year and when I got to Irwindale it took me all night to get dialed in." But he did get dialed in, working his way from 13th starting spot to the front by lap 78 and leading the rest of the way in his Sesco-powered machine. When asked about his goals this Thanksgiving Night, Mel responded: "First I hope to miss the snow going out, then I hope we can load her on the trailer in one piece after the race." Actually Mel will be seeking to score his first Irwindale Thanksgiving Night victory! The 1975 race was rained out on its original date and run three days later, on Sunday afternoon!