NASCAR 7.03.2010: The Irwindale Story in Pictures

By R. A. Fariello

Photography by Gina Graham Fariello

Thompson Motorsports entered their #61 and #60 K&N Pro cars in the now traditional Independence Day race at Irwindale CA. The #60 of Taylor Barton (FullTiltPoker.Net) finished a solid performance in 12th place. The #61 of Brett Thompson was thought to be an average car at best. Thanks to a phenomenal drive by Brett, the car worked its way from a 15th place start to a 3rd place finish and in doing so, generated a wish that the race would have been 50 laps longer!


The Irwindale Race weekend began with a “West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame” dinner


Several hundred race associated people attended the Hall of Fame dinner


The Hall of Fame dinner was well attended by both NASCAR Race Teams and NASCAR Officials. Here Becky is flanked by Chad (left) and Rich Thompson at one of the Thompson Motorsports tables.


NASCAR Official Christine acted as Hostess for the Hall of Fame dinner. Kevin Green, NASCAR communications director for the series, brings an incredible 40+ year resume to this job.


Qualifying positions are a “luck of the draw” process. Above, Patty, representing the #60 car, draws a 9th, while Jane (below) draws the 30th spot. NASCAR Officials Cindy and Toni conduct the drawing while Kay, a friend from BMR, records the positions.


Jane is very pleased … her #61 car would qualify 30th, and last, when the track would be considerably cooler … and quicker!


While the background clerical items are being attended to, the cars are unloaded and made ready for practice


The #61 car sits on its scales. The mechanics found the cool overcast skies of the morning to their liking. July events at Irwindale are often accompanied by temperatures approaching 100F.


During practice the #60 car was very good: it was consistently in the top 10 on the leader-board


The #61, shown exiting the track, was at best, an average car. This fact was reflected in its practice times which were in the 15th to 20th range. Whatever the cause, the car seemed to resist every change made to it. With a measure of disappointment, Brett and Crew Chief Charlie Wilson said ‘let’s just get it to turn and at least we can race with it’.


The #60 car is rolled to the NASCAR Inspection Garage


The recalcitrant #61 RTTI car of Brett Thompson is also waits in the inspection line.


The #61 passes through the rigorous NASCAR Inspection process.


The #60 car prior to entering the “Tech” garage.


30 NASCAR Grand National “K&N Pro” cars line up for Qualifying. The #60 would qualify in 13th position for the starting grid.


Brett Thompson was last to qualify. He took advantage of the cooler air and lower track temperatures to qualify better than expected. More importantly, he said that while the car was still ‘lazy’, it did turn OK, and “I think we can at least race with it”.


An interesting close up photograph captures the #60 entering Turn #1 at 120mph. The car was under heavy braking at this moment: it was also being driven at 10-tenths!


Above: It WAS the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale Independence Day Race!


The Irwindale on-track autograph session: Taylor Barton signs driver cards for several young fans.


Brett resumes his long time friendship with Tommy and Jeffrey – today, they are both part of the Irwindale Broadcast Team.


At 8:30 PM, darkness approaches as NASCAR prepares to wave off the 30 car field. The race was a sellout!


Taylor Barton’s #60 has the fast line entering Turn #1. Although only a “5th race Rookie”, Taylor’s results have been very good. Here he begins another pass on the way to a solid 12 place finish.


Brett Thompson entering Turn#1. Within the first 20 laps of the race Brett found out that, indeed, the car actually could ‘race’, and he began a march to the front. With superb car control, Brett ran virtually every possible line on the track, and in doing so, was able to overcome some of the car’s earlier deficiencies. By the last third of the race, the #61 car was consistently a ‘fastest lap’ car, and on long runs, was never passed by another car. As the laps ran out Brett’s excellent drive, one worthy of victory, would result in a fast closing 3rd place finish.


First for on-track congratulations: Crew Chief Charlie Wilson.


Brett being interviewed by victory lane TV crew.


A two part story: #61 finishing 3rd, and a heavily “used” white outside wall! The latter bears witness to the intensity of the on-track competition.


After the race; a $50,000 fireworks display.


NASCAR conducts random mechanical inspections on the Top-5 race finishers. These are inspections are extensive, and often take 2 to 3 hours to complete. If you finish in the “top 5”, you don’t just load the hauler and get an early start on the ride back home.


With post race inspection finally completed, an undamaged #61 is loaded on the hauler for transport back to the Jerome ID race shop.


The Grandstands are empty for now, and it is time to reflect on exactly what the “4th of July” means to our country – and to all who gave their” full measure of devotion” in achieving and maintaining the cause of freedom.

{partial quote: Abraham Lincoln; Gettysburg Address}


The Toyota Speedway at Irwindale by night; it is almost 1AM as post race inspections are completed. Although the Luxury Suites remain lighted, the track is completely empty.

Unfortunately, the NASCAR K&N Pro cars will have to wait until January 2011 in order to again race at this excellent track. Given their choice, most would like to race “at Irwindale” more often than they do.

TMS again looks forward to competing in the highly anticipated Irwindale “NASCAR Showdown” in January, 2011.

For Brett Thompson, some early season misfortune has now turned decidedly positive. In a 7-day period Brett has won one race and then finished 3rd at Irwindale. He is also currently listed as #1in laps led within the very high performance RMCS (touring) Series.

Clearly, everyone at TMS is looking forward to the 2nd half of the season. Please check

for all of the latest Thompson Motorsports news


Thank You All:


~ Photography by Gina Fariello & RA Fariello

With post race inspection finally completed, an undamaged #61 is loaded on the hauler for transport back to the Jerome ID race shop.

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