The 2009 North American Motorsports racing season reaches its conclusion on Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 26 at TOYOTA Speedway at Irwindale Speedway when it hosts the 69th Running of the Lucas Oil Turkey Night Grand Prix presented by Agajanian Promotions.
One of America’s most revered racing traditions has for many years served as the “last word” for the North American Motorsports calendar of major events and is a highlight for race fans, especially those who travel across the country as evidenced by the number of motor homes who have already established temporary residence in the Speedway’s RV area.
Many of the traveling fans will prepare Thanksgiving dinner in the Speedway’s parking lot during the afternoon leading up to an evening of 200 laps of racing that includes a race tripleheader of the fastest cars to compete on TOYOTA Speedway’s half and third mile oval tracks. The 98-lap Midget feature race honors the memory of the late race organizer J.C. Agajanian, with whom the number 98 was synonymous with the famed #98 Agajanian entry in the Indianapolis 500 that featured wins by Troy Ruttman in 1952 and Parnelli Jones in 1963.
The field of over 100 racing entrants will include the nation’s top drivers and teams competing in the USAC Mopar National and Western Midget Series, the USAC Western Sprint Car Series and the USAC California Pavement Ford Focus Series in their only appearance at the facility in 2009. IRL and Indy 500 veteran Davey Hamilton and NASCAR veteran and former “Turkey Night” champion Jason Leffler of Long Beach, Calif. are among the entrants as well as defending “Turkey Night” champion Bobby Santos III of Franklin, Mass.
Champions will be crowned in each of the series competing in the event with Brad Kuhn of Avon, Ind., Garrett Hansen of Manhattan Beach, Calif., Tanner Swanson of Kingsburg, Calif. and Nik Romano of Atherton, Calif. leading their respective series.
In the Mopar Midget National Championship standings, Kuhn has a 40-point lead over Brad Sweet of Alpine, Calif. and a 53-point margin over Darren Hagen of Riverside, Calif. A total of 66 points are available and a 19th place finish for Kuhn would eliminate Hagen from the championship hunt and a 13th place finish would eliminate Sweet.
Hansen leads the Western Midget standings and is seeking his first ever USAC Championship.
Swanson leads the Western Sprint car Series standings and is going after his second USAC Series championship in a 40-lap race.
Nicknamed ‘Quick Nik’, Romano is a 19-year old rookie from Atherton, Calif. who has captured division crowns in other open-wheel development series and is seeking his first California paved Ford Focus Midget championship when he competes in the “Hoosier Tire 40” on TOYOTA Speedway’s third mile oval.
Spectator gates open at 4 p.m. The King Taco fan appreciation autograph session with drivers and cars on the track is scheduled at 5:45 p.m. with racing scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. Toyota will have the Joe Gibbs Racing Home Depot Camry show car available in its vehicle pavilion and will allow fans to sit behind the wheel of the car and get pictures taken.
From 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., track officials and key vendors along with many of the Turkey Night racers in association with the Foothill Unity Center will be serving a special turkey dinner to needy families from the surrounding San Gabriel Valley communities. Later that day, Toyota and the Southern California Toyota dealers will be hosting a busload of Marines from the Camp Pendleton, Calif. Marine Corps base. The Marines will tour the pits before the races and will be served turkey dinner.
Tickets for the Turkey Night Grand Prix are available for purchase at the Speedway ticket office, on the Internet at www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com or by calling (626) 358-1100.
Southern California Auto Club members receive a 10% discount off of the purchase of up to four (4) adult general admission tickets for the Turkey Night Grand Prix when they show their AAA membership card.
Additional information on the events and racing series can be obtained by logging onto www.usacracing.com and the Speedway’s web site www.toyotaspeedwayatirwindale.com.
TOYOTA Speedway at Irwindale is located at 500 Speedway Drive off of Live Oak Ave. and I-605, between the 10 and 210 freeways in Irwindale, Calif.