Toyota Speedway at Irwindale and other Southern California short tracks that host racing mostly on Saturday nights are gearing up for the 2009 racing season.
The Irwindale facility, considered one of the best short tracks in the nation, is a half-mile paved oval that features late-model stock cars.
Trucks and smaller cars called bandoleros and legends also compete at Toyota Speedway, which also hosts demolition derbies and figure-eight races.
The track’s notable events during the year include its NASCAR season opener March 21, the NASCAR Camping World Series 200 on July 4, the NASCAR Late Model final on Oct. 24 and the venerable Turkey Night race with sprint and midget cars Thanksgiving night.
On Oct. 17, the speedway also is scheduled to host a professional “drifting” event as part of the Formula Drift series’ schedule.
Developed in Japan and increasingly popular in the United States, drifting involves race cars that slide sideways, or drift, through the corners, accompanied by plumes of tires smoke and screeching brakes.
Drivers are judged on accuracy, grace, speed and how closely they stay together, and Toyota Speedway has become one of the sport’s most popular venues.
Ticket prices at Toyota Speedway ( www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com) generally are $15 for general admission and $12 for seniors, with children admitted for either $5 or free depending on their age and the event. Reserved seats are $25 each.
The facility includes a one-eighth-mile drag strip that is open to most types of racing and street-legal vehicles and mainly operates on Thursday nights.
Two other short tracks in Southern California are Perris Auto Speedway (www.perris autospeedway.com) in Riverside County and Ventura Raceway ( www.venturaraceway.com).
The Perris facility, a half-mile clay oval on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds, hosts its opening sprint- and midget-car races Feb. 28, and its first multi-race lineup of modified stock cars and other race cars on March 7.
The USAC/CRA Sprint Car series is among those that frequent Perris Auto Speedway, and Mike Spencer of Temecula is the reigning champion.
Ventura Raceway is another dirt track on the Ventura County Fairgrounds, which features several forms of racing, including sprints, midgets and compacts. Its season starts March 14.
The track, noting the weak economy, last month announced that children age 12 and under would be admitted free this year when accompanied by an adult paying the general admission price, which is $14 for most events.
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Notable events. Gates typically open at 4 p.m., and events begin at 7 p.m.:
March 21: NASCAR short-track season opener at Irwindale.
July 4: NASCAR Camping World Series 200, NASCAR Auto Club late models and post-race fireworks show.
Sept. 12: NASCAR super late model final points.
Oct. 17: Formula drift.
Oct. 24: NASCAR late model final points.
Nov. 26: 69th running of Turkey Night Grand Prix, featuring USAC midgets and sprint cars.
Unless otherwise specified, ticket prices are as follows:
Kids 6-12: $5.
Kids 5 & under: Free.
Reserved seats: $25.
To be determined.
Kids 15 & under: Free.
What: A motorsports and entertainment facility, Toyota Speedway at Irwindale has 6,000 seats, with twin paved oval race tracks (banked 1/2 and 1/3 mile).
Where: In the San Gabriel Valley, it is about 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles and is directly adjacent to the 605 Freeway.
What kind of racing? Stock cars, sprint cars, midgets, supermodifieds, legends, trucks and more.
Super late models
Pat Mintey Jr.
West Coast pro trucks