By: Drew Hierwarter
Turkey Night, as it’s called, is one of the oldest and most prestigious midget races in the country having it’s beginnings at the old Gilmore Stadium in Los Angeles in 1934. Since then the race has moved around a little being run at Gardena Stadium, Ascot Park, Bakersfield Speedway, Ventura Speedway, and since 1999 at Irwindale Speedway. Some of the greatest names in the sport have won this race including A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Mel Kenyon, the late Stan Fox, Ron Shuman, Billy Boat, and Tony Stewart, just to name a few. Beginning in 1956 the race was promoted by J.C. Agajanian, famed racing patron and Indy 500 winning car owner. The family has continued running the event since J.C.’s death in 1984 and this year the race was shortened from the traditional 100 laps to 98 in honor of their 50th anniversary. 98 was the number on Agajanian’s race cars for years and was carried to two wins in the Indianpolis 500. Once in 1952 with Troy Ruttman driving, and again in 1963 with Parnelli Jones.
In victory lane a very happy Dave Darland said “This is the best competition that you’ll find anywhere. We race with these guys all year long and when you throw in a Kasey Kahne and a ton of other guys then it’s a very tough race. The only real concern that I had was a wreck on turn two, (a three car crash that occurred on lap 27), that happened right in front of me and that was quite a moment that I had. I had a perfect race car tonight from the first lap to the 98th lap. I just couldn’t ask for a better race car, everything just went great.” It was Darland’s first win in the Thanksgiving classic.