LOS ANGELES – Annual sponsor Automotive Racing Products of Ventura, a leading supplier of automotive fasteners, added $15,000 to the USAC Turkey NightGrand Prix on Nov. 27 at Ventura Raceway.
ARP spread the money from first to last positions so more drivers would benefit from the additional money. The feature paid $600 just to start. Semi-main non-transferees (fifth or lower) received $200 each – an increase of $100 per position more than past Turkey Night Grands Prix.
First time Turkey Night Grand Prix winner Logan Seavey, 24, collected $10,000 instead of the usual $6,000. Runner-up Buddy Kofoid, who turned 20 on Dec. 2, earned $5,000 instead of $3,000. Third place Mitchel Moles, 21, received $3,500 instead of the usual $2,000. Tenth paid $1,000, an increase of $225. Other payoffs were $800 for P.15 and $675 each for positions 23-26. Last place paid $150 more than last year.
The best finishing double duty driver in the 360 sprint car and midget main events received a $500 bonus from ARP. Five double duty drivers were eligible. The winner was Ryan Bernal, who placed second in the sprint 30 lapper and seventh in the midget 98-lap feature in No. 87w. Runners-up in order were: Chase Randall (fifth in the sprint car and 11th midget); Carson Macedo (third in the sprint car and 18th in the midget); Chase Johnson (sixth in the sprint car and 21st i the midget); and Cory Eliason (15th in the sprint car and 26th in the midget).
– No. 57 sprint car owner Paul Silva – crew chief on Kyle Larson’s two midgets – told me he does not build his race cars. He has respected northern California race car fabricator Rod Tiner construct them.
– Turkey Night Grand Prix Driver Home States – Midget drivers came 12 states as follows: California – 32; Oklahoma – six; Indiana – three; Texas – two, plus one each from Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Nevada, and Washington. Sprint car drivers came from three states – California–26 and one each from Oklahoma and Texas.
– Chassis/Engines – 50 Midgets: There were six midget chassis led by 29 Spikes. Next most popular was Bullet by Spike with 10, Triple X – five, King – four, and one each by CS9 and Edmunds. There were nine midget engines. Speedway Toyota led with 20. Stanton SR-11X supplied 12, Esslinger five, 1 Way Chevy–three, and two each from Ed Pink Toyota. Fontana, Standridge (a Chevy and a Fontana), Stanton SR-11 and Van Dyne (a Mopar and a Chevy).
The 28 sprint cars had 13 chassis builders. Maxim led with 11. Triple X followed with four. There were two each from Eagle, Ellis, and Spike. One car came from CS9, DRC, KPC, 777, Stinger, Tiner, and TCR. Engines: Chevy had 14. Two came from builders Bailey Bros., May, and Shark. Fisher, Engle, Lawrence, RC Performance, S & S, Timmons, Van Dyne, and VSR all built one engine.
– Trophies – The Turkey Night Grand Prix trophies were displayed on a table in the pits. They included the perpetual Aggie Trophy with a bronzed Stetson hat worn by the late race organizer J.C. Agajanian. Agajanian, the Indianapolis 500 winning car owner in 1952 and ’63, revived the Turkey Night Grand Prix in 1955. The Stetson is perched atop the trophy at a forward angle. The three-tiered wooden base includes individual metal plaques with the name, year, and track of each race winner since the inaugural race in 1934. Ron Shuman’s name appears eight times. The Aggie Trophy inspiration was the famous Indianapolis 500 Borg-Warner Trophy that has the name, victory year, and face of each winner on it.
– The Indianapolis 500 also presents an annual rookie of the year award since 1952 for the highest finishing rookie. The Don Basile Rookie of the Race Trophy for the highest finishing Turkey Night Grand Prix rookie competitor regardless of racing experience is highlighted by a stainless steel ice bucket with a midget on top. It is a 1950s-60s era trophy dash award. Metal plaques on the base are etched with the names of all rookie winners since the award originated in 1998 after the passing of Don Basile. His son, Bob, suggested the award to honor the NSCHoF inductee/race promoter and Agajanian’s long-time right hand man. The winner each year initially received $200 cash. That award later increased to $500.
– Winner’s Trophy – Ventura Raceway promoter Jim Naylor built a unique and coveted trophy that went to the midget feature winner. This year he built a pair of one-sixth scale model midgets – a 1934 midget (No. 34) on the left side and a modern day roll cage silver midget (No. 80 for the 80th running of the Turkey Night Grand Prix) on the right side. Naylor said it took about three months to assemble all the parts necessary and construct the innovative trophy during his busy schedule.
Naylor said he plans to paint the No. 80 car in the colors and number with sponsors of the winning car. It will be black and white, No. 25 with sponsor Trench Shoring on the hood when winners Tom Malloy and Logan Seavey take permanent possession of their trophy. Malloy will place it among his collection of famous open-wheel and Indianapolis 500 cars, driver helmets and racing paraphernalia in Corona. Malloy calls the site his garage because he also restores famous race cars there.
– Californians Malloy and his crew chief/two-time USAC Western driving champion Jerome Rodela, 40, from El Monte, and crewman Chris Trammel, from Ventura, were elated to win their first Turkey night Grand Prix. That was a major goal for all involved. Malloy funded the team’s relocation to Indiana for the 2021 season and opened a new race shop in an ex-school building. They raced in all 40 USAC National Midget events this year.
They won two features — at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway on June 5 and Ventura’s Turkey Night Grand Prix. Malloy also fielded a No. 25m midget in which Colby Copeland finished 16th in the Turkey night Grand Prix. Seavey, the 2018 USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget champion, finished sixth in USAC National Midget driver points and Malloy’s No. 25 King/Ed Pink Toyota placed fifth in final entrant point standings.