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Night of Champions

Night of Champions
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IRWINDALE SPEEDWAY - “NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS” 

Monrovia, CA., Jan. 24 – The Irwindale Speedway and Irwindale Drag-strip “Night of Champions” awards banquet Saturday honored 2014 season champions and successful competitors. The sold out gala attracted 250 persons to the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel main ballroom. It was the second season-ending celebration under 211 Entertainment, which increased Irwindale Event Center oval track race dates during its second year operating the state of the art facility that opened in March 1999.

The 211 Group conducted 19 Saturday night oval events (up from 17 in 2013) under NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and numerous NHRA Summit Series events on the eighth-mile drag-strip. Track announcers Bruce Flanders and Gordon Stewart served as co-emcees. They introduced 211 Entertainment CEO Jim Cohan and 211 executive vice president Audra Moore and guest J. C. Agajanian, Jr., of Agajanian Promotions.

More than 350 racers competed on the oval and drag-racing tracks during 2014. They completed the season with an admirable safety record, numerous new fans and first-time feature winners. New and repeat champions received their large trophies following the 6:00 reception, 7:00-8:00 pm salad, chicken plus beef dinner, and cake desert served to guests at 25 tables. Awards ceremonies ran from 8:00 to 9:30 pm. Champions will receive traditional “Irwindale Speedway champion” leather jackets soon.

DRAG-STRIP CHAMPIONS: Drag-strip announcer Bob Beck officiated the drag-strip ceremonies. He said weekly Thursday drag racing that allows the public to test and tune their vehicles averaged 240 cars/bikes a night. He presented trophies to champions in four Summit Racing Series classes.

   > Sportsman Class – Willie Hoefer won this class for the second time. He won by 86 points with 64 drivers participating.

   > Pro Class – Marvin Roles won for the second time in his 12 years racing at Irwindale. He edged the runner-up by 95 points with 59 competitors involved.

   > Super Pro – Don Mehling won this fastest class by 50 points with his Plymouth Duster. Nineteen drivers participated.

   > Pro Bike – Dakota Sun captured the motorcycle crown by 127 points in a field of 11 riders. He also won the Auto Club Speedway (Fontana) drag-strip championship.

Prior to dispensing the oval track hardware, emcees called to the stage indispensable people who make the track work. Framed appreciation certificates were awarded to all members of the track fire and rescue crew, credential staff who make the pit pass windows run smoothly, oval track and drag-strip officials, and facilities workers. Bob Klein,VP Operations, and Manny Gonzales, Facilities Manager, were the two employees who kept the Irwindale Events Center property functioning when the oval track did not conduct races during 2012.

OVAL TRACK CHAMPIONS: Seven oval track divisions raced for Irwindale Speedway 2014 championships. Top ten points drivers in late model and Irwindale Race Trucks received trophies. Top seven in legend cars, plus top five in super late model, super stock, and mini stock points, and the top four in Bandolero points received trophies.

   > Lucas Oil Late Models (IS premier NASCAR division) – Ryan Partridge, 26, won eight of 19 main events for his second consecutive title in this division. He never finished lower than fifth place. His final points total of 950 was only 50 points shy of a perfect 1,000. Eight drivers won the 19 features and 32 drivers scored points. Ryan also won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series California State Championship.

   > Irwindale Race Trucks – Partridge, a third generation racer from Rancho Cucamonga, won his second 2014 IS truck title (including 2010). He won seven of ten features and scored 516 points out of a possible 550 points. Two drivers won the ten mains and 27 scored IRT points. This division provided some of the largest fields and most competitive races of the season.

   > Pick Your Part Super Late Models – Linny White, 26, from Colton, won one of the seven features--the final, double-points race. He won his first IS championship by scoring 372 points to 370 by runner-up Jason Patison. Twenty-eight drivers raced in the SLM division and four won main events. SLM racing is not on the 2015 IS schedule.

   > Super Stocks – Second generation driver Zack Green, 24, from Long Beach, won six of ten S/S races. Three drivers split the victories. He won his second consecutive S/S crown by 12 points (514-502). Fourteen drivers competed. Green had to use a Camaro borrowed from Paul Howard after his own Camaro was damaged severely June 7 in a two-car crash involving Howard.

  > Seidner's Collision Centers Mini Stocks - Garrett Green, 21-year old brother of the SS champion and also from Long Beach, won his first IS track championship by winning one of eight races. He captured his title by two points (402-400). Sixteen drivers took part in the series and six of them won main events for this four-cylinder class.

   > INEX Legend Cars – Veteran Brent Scheidemantle, 21, captured his first IS driving title in his first full season chasing Irwindale points. The Alta Loma resident won five of ten main events and secured the title by 44 points; 31 drivers earned points. Three drivers won the ten features for the purpose-built, 5/8-size replica coupes and sedans from the 1930s.

   > Universal Studios Hollywood Bandoleros – Ryan Vargas, 14, dominated this entry racing class for youth ages 8 to 15 and won his first IS championship. The La Mirada resident won 11 of 12 main events run on Friday and Saturdaynights; he placed second in the race he did not win. He earned 648 points out of a maximum 650 available. He acted as a mentor for younger drivers in this class and was popular with all “bando” drivers for his clean driving and friendliness to all.

ROOKIES OF THE YEAR:

 

   > Late Models – Christian McGhee, 16, won one feature and placed third in final points. The La Verne resident graduated from bandos, legend cars and trucks and even made his debut in the touring Spears SRL Stock Cars. In that race he led many laps early until a deflating tire caused him to lose positions, but he still finished on the lead lap.

   > IRT – Lacie Price, 20, a legend car graduate from Bellflower and daughter of IS super stock 1999 champion Mike Price, finished fifth in the competitive truck division. The second year college student wheeled a Chevy S-10.

   > Mini Stock – Robby Harryman, 23, of Anaheim, drove his Ford Pinto to third place in points.

   > Bandoleros – Johnny Dressler, 12, from Rancho Cucamonga, finished fourth in points.

ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS:

   > Jeff Green, father of the super and mini stock 2014 track champions, won the IS NASCAR crew chief of the year trophy. The retired super stock driver drove his own Camaro to the 2000-01 Irwindale super stock championships using No. 21. Both of his sons also used that family car number on their cars.

   > NASCAR Irwindale overall driver of the year trophy went to double 2014 track champion Partridge. His 15 feature victories (eight in late models and seven in IRT) lifted him from fifth to second in all-time main event wins at IS. His 49 victories in four divisions is now second only to leader Rip Michels' 67 triumphs in four divisions. Partridge spoke at the podium and praised his No. 48 late model and truck co-car owners, Steve Latina and Donna Hall. The personable winner also thanked 211 Entertainment for reviving IS racing by their original and follow-up track leases. He then praised Jeff Schrader and his Racecar Factory, Ron's Rear Ends and Speedway Transmissions.

Partridge broke the news that he will race the full 13-race NASCAR K & N West stock car schedule from March 28 to November 12 in one of Bob Bruncati's two-car Sunrise Ford team cars. “We made the deal last week on a handshake.” Afterwards Partridge revealed Jeff Schrader will be the crew chief and Bill Sedgwick will be the shop foreman/car chief. Partridge said he will drive the same No. 9 Ford that Dylan Lupton drove to second place in K & N West 2014 point standings at the end of his two-year deal with Bruncati. The 2015 K & N schedule has dates at 12 different speedways from bullrings, to a mile and the Sonoma road course.

A special recognition award went to popular Mike Atkinson for his two years of outstanding service as IS racing director. He received a standing ovation from the audience. His daughters Sarah and Jannie (both IS scorers) kissed him on the cheek. Jannie again served as the trophy presenter on stage. Atkinson told the audience his late father Art was the long-time stock car racing promoter at Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino starting in 1965 and at Irwindale's Speedway 605 from 1968 until it closed.

J. C. Agajanian, Jr. took the mic and told the audience that Irwindale Speedway has the best operating staff front gate to back gate that he has seen. At his wrap-up from the stage, emcee Stewart said “Irwindale Speedway is blessed with great young, talented drivers. Thanks to parents for raising their youngsters well and in racing. Thanks also to Jim Cohan and 211 Entertainment.” A DJ provided recorded music for dancing after festivities concluded.

NOTES:

  • Track photographer Peter Choi said his banquet award photos will be available soon on Facebook at Facebook.com/irwindaleeventcenter. The printed programs at each table were produced by 211 Entertainment.

  • Jeff Schrader said his Racecar Factory, in Irwindale has built six new race cars during the off-season. Four are modifieds for the popular touring Lucas Oil Series that has one 2015 date at IS, and two are late models. One of the late models went to owner/driver Rob Kiemele and one is for 17-year old Ricky Schlick, a bando, legends, late model veteran.

  • Bandolero champion Ricky Vargas, 14, announced he will race a super stock Camaro that his family purchased in Las Vegas and a truck ride is possible as well.

  • Partridge said his No. 48 Toyota truck has been sold to Riley Herbst, of Las Vegas. His No. 48 late model Toyota Camry does not have a sponsor for 2015 and will be parked at the start of the 2015 season by its owners—Latina & Hall.