The “Turkey Night Grand Prix” USAC Mopar National/Western Midget race is returning to a dirt track for the first time in 14 years.
Perris (California) Auto Speedway will host the November 22 event, which for the past 13 years has been contested at Irwindale Speedway. The feature event is 98 laps around the Perris half-mile in honor of longtime race organizer J.C. Agajanian, whose family now presents the annual classic.
Perris hosted the race in 1996 as Billy Boat scored the second of what would be three consecutive “Turkey Night” triumphs for him at three different tracks. The race’s last appearance on dirt came in 1998 at Bakersfield (California) Speedway, as Jay Drake took home the hardware.
“Turkey Night” has been held at nine different venues in its 78-year history. This year’s race marks the 72nd running of the race, which began at Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles, California, in 1934, a race won by Bob Swanson.
The ensuing years have seen the race held at Gardena Stadium, Ascot Park, 605 Speedway, Saugus Speedway, Bakersfield, Perris, Ventura Raceway and Irwindale.
Boat’s three victories have been eclipsed only by the remarkable Ron Shuman, who compiled eight wins in the yearly race.
Defending two-time USAC National Drivers Champion Bryan Clauson of Noblesville, Indiana, hopes to join Boat this year in the three-time winner category. He is expected to be joined by defending race winner Caleb Armstrong of New Castle, Indiana, who was the winner on the Irwindale pavement last November. Two other “active” race winners are Bobby East and Jason Leffler, while former race winners Dave Darland, Bobby Santos and Billy Wease remain active in the sport.
Perris Auto Speedway has hosted a total of 203 USAC events (as of August 20, 2012), including 145 Sprint races, as it has become the home of the popular AMSOIL USAC/CRA Sprint Series. A total of 22 USAC Midget races have been held at Perris since the first 16 years ago.
Advance tickets for the 72nd running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix will go on sale Monday, August 27. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.tix.com or by calling 800/595-4849.