Stock car racing legend native Ernie Irvan returns to the track where he won his first championship when he appears at the Night of Champions on Saturday, August 5 at Stockton 99 Speedway. Irvan and several former champions will be on hand to greet racing fans, and his son Jared Irvan will race in the Stockton Late Models Night of Champions 100 on a night which features plenty of racing and fireworks.
Stockton 99 Speedway is located at 4105 North Wilson Way in Stockton. Pit gates open at 1 p.m. and spectator games open at 4 p.m. Racing is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Ernie Irvan started his storied racing career in 1977 at Stockton 99, winning the track title at the age of 15. He would move on to become a major NASCAR star, with his career reaching its zenith with a victory in the Daytona 500 in 1991. He led the NASCAR Cup Series in poles in 1994 with five.
He retired in 1999 with 15 Cup wins and was inducted into the West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame.
Now the Salinas native returns to the quarter-mile, high-banked asphalt oval where it all began.
“It’s really neat to come back to support Stockton 99 Speedway,” Irvan said. “There’s a lot of memories at that place, and it will be great to see a lot of old friends.”
Ernie Irvan’s son, 19-year-old Jared Irvan, will be racing in a replica of his father’s No. 4 Kodak car which he competed in as part of Morgan/McClure racing. The car is being prepared by Ron Strmiska Jr. of the well-known Strmiska racing family of Manteca.
“Jared is excited, and he wants to make sure he runs faster than Dad did at the track,” Ernie Irvan said. “I don’t know how fast we went back then, but no matter what we plan to tell him that he’s still two-tenths (of a second) off.”
Among the former Stockton 99 champions scheduled to attend the event are seven-time track titleholder Dan Reed, five-time champ Ken Reed, Jim Reich, Steve McGovney, Dave Byrd, Dave Philpott and Harry Belletto. There will be an autograph session beginning at 5:30 p.m.
“Honesty, I think this will be one of the biggest things to happen at the race track,” Belletto said. “It will bring in a cross section of fans from the old days and from the modern days. It will be a cool event.”
For some, such as Dave Philpott, Saturday is both a reunion and a work day. His son, Justin Philpott, is also competing in the Late Models race. Local stars Pete Anderson, Joey Stearns, Robbie Knittel, Dennis Byers, Larry Tankersley and many others are expected to compete.
“Seeing all these old guys will be a cool adventure, and we’re here to win this thing,” David Philpott said.
The show will also include the Tom Manning Memorial BCRA race with BCRA Midgets & Vintage Midgets, Bombers and B4 Cylinders.
Ticket prices are $20 for adults (16-plus), and $15 for juniors (11-15), seniors (60-plus) and military personnel with ID. Kids 10-under are free, and a Family Pass (two adults, two juniors) is $55. Pit Passes are $40 for members and $50 for non-members
For information, contact (209) 466-9999 or visit the website at stockton99.com