Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Skid Plate Racing ... Irwindale's Toyota Speedway's Latest Motor Culture Craze

Over 20 cars and drivers showed up for a Memorial Day Weekend Saturday night race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale – the home race track of Skid Plate racing. When the green flag dropped the field charged and slid down the front straight at maximum possible velocity. Perhaps a little too hot. Caption & Image Credit:

Skid Plate Racing ... Irwindale's Toyota Speedway's Latest Motor Culture Craze

When one first hears the words, Skid Plate Racing, one immediately asks "WHAT?" At least that is what this reporter was left with.

There are many forms of automobile competition ... but none are as accessible as a series that is based upon the most available junker car platforms with the most common powerplants. All cars are mandatory STOCK save for one Teensy-Weensy specified modification ... the Skid Plate.

This racing platform and oval racing series is the brainchild of Auto Soccer and Demo Derby Master of Mayhem, Robert Rice. He developed, created, and tested the rear skid plate wheels for use in this unique to Irwindale style of 1/3 mile banked oval motor racing.

Part race car driver, part car owner, and all “mad scientist”, Rice and his intrepid crew of hardworking, hardcore, honest-to-Iaccoca team of car nuts designed, built, tested, and now race the heck out of a division that’s aptly-named “Skid Plate Cars” … because THAT is what they do.

SPARKS - what looks like track destruction is actually not harmful at all to the third-mile racing surface at Toyota Speedway where 30 of 40 of these machine can be seen racing at one time. The beveled lip and the large flat surface allow the plates to glide over the expensive asphalt showering copious sparks, but not damaging the track in the least. Caption & Image Credit: Toyota Speedway/Stokes Communications

The formula is simple: Take one front wheel drive compact or sub-compact car, remove the rear wheels, remove the tires from those wheels, weld a ¾” thick 10” x 20” steel plate to it, weld in some angle iron braces, drill a couple of holes in the inside of the rim and rattle-can the whole thing whatever color you’ve got a can of (oh yes, remember to bevel the front edge of that plate please!).

Take those wheel arrangements and bolt them back on the vehicle (that’s been race-prepped by having all window glass removed and the doors bolted shut on both sides).

Open the trunk and drill a 3/8” hole midway down each wheel arch, do the same thing in the rear seat area. Insert eye-bolts, cinch up and then do the same with both sides (front and rear) of the skid wheel. Attach a suitable length of strong chain on both sides and you are ready (as you’ll ever be) to go Skid Plate Racing.

Driving a Skid Plate Car is like driving on snow or ice with a cafeteria tray under each rear wheel or the park brake on while traversing a patch of glare ice. In other words, control is a sometimes thing, any and all driver inputs: steering, braking, gas pedal down (or up), even swearing at the thing, seem to have a mind of their own as to when something resembling what the driver asked for might actually happen.

A strong sense of pre-deja'vu and very limited imagination are two of the best things to have if one is thinking about any sort of pro career in one of these machines. Think of Skid Plate Racing as go-karting with a roof, a man-sized cockpit, with none of that pesky traction and cornering g-forces to contend with ... you will still spin, really, that's guaranteed!

Any 1980 or newer, four or six-cylinder, front wheel drive car with a 90-inch or longer wheelbase is OK. No secret reinforcements or buttressing is allowed. No added weight. However, hitting the buffet a few times to add weight to the driver before the race is way OK.

A Skid Plate Race car must be stock at its core. If you are going to run a V6, two of its cylinders must be disabled.

The skid plates are available from the House of Irwindale, and cannot be modified.

Big horsepower, a $500 paint job on your GFORCE or BELL brain bucket, neon piping on your fire suit, your race car’s body mounted with50 or 60 thousand out-of-pocket, and/or a $109,000.00 motorhome are all of no help here. On the other hand, a product sponsorship from a supplier Harbor Freight could be a big plus.

Thursday evening, October 7, 2010, fresh from Kansas Speedway, Penske Racing South and Mobil One are going Skid Plate Racing as a fun warm-up to this weekend's fourth NASCAR race for the ten event Sprint Cup Chase at Auto Club Speedway. There are no promises but participants will all be “members of the Penske stock car teams” which have as its drivers Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman. Since all of NASCAR is in town for the Chase ... who really knows just who might show up. This should be a good time for some friendly competition, after-all, it's only Skid Plate Racing!
(ht: Toyota Speedway/Stokes Communications)

... notes from The EDJE

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