A capacity crowd turned out October 28, for what was likely Irwindale Speedway’s final Night of Destruction.
After several years of uncertainty about the track’s future, many have accepted that the end of racing here is coming at the end of this season. The lights are set to go out forever in January.
On this night though, the thought of losing this legendary venue didn’t seem to be on the minds of the hundreds of costumed children (and adults) as they poured into the infield of the half-mile oval for the pre-race autograph and trick-or-treat session.
All of the evening’s drivers and “race cars” along with SCMM members and their MINIs, provided candy and photo ops. Fans got to meet the drivers, like sprint car stars Austin Carter and Audra Sasselli.
After an hour of infield festivities, the fans made their way back into the grandstand, and the MINI Maniacs took a couple of parade laps around the track. Chasing the pack of MINIs, to the delight of fans, was Nancy Homer in Mini Fuzz, her Classic Mini “police cruiser,” lights and siren blaring.
Once everyone got settled in the grandstand, the action on the track kicked off with an eight-lap exhibition of King of the Wing supermodifed sprint cars.
Following the 50-lap main event truck race, things then slid out of control, literally. Taking to the oval, skid-plate racers battled for 20 laps just to keep their cars going straight. These are front-wheel-drive heaps that have the rear tires replaced with a flat steel plate, which makes them handle more like a spinning top.
The evening continued with a 20-lap figure 8 race, powder puff demolition derby and the grand finale trailer race.
Talking to a 19-year employee of the speedway, it was evident that this was a family. He said they were sad to see this place possibly coming to an end, yet hopeful that another 11th-hour reprieve may save the track, at least for another year. But regardless, he will still see his fellow workers away from the track, many of whom had been there for more than a decade.
A night at Irwindale Speedway has been a popular event with SCMM members since 2005. The MINI Maniacs were always given “featured club” status, which meant free admission, a reserved parking corral, and parade laps prior to start of racing.
“We’ve had a great run here and have many fond memories to hold onto,” said SCMM President Dan Skorcz. “If this really is the end, we can say we were here for the final Night of Destruction.”