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Tully wins state's first-ever Skid Plate race

Brian Tully won the first Skid Plate automobile race ever held in California.

Tully was one of 16 drivers in the 16-lap race October 31 on the Toyota Speedway at Irwindale 1/3-mile oval.

He took the lead late in the race for the cars whose rear wheels had been replaced by metal plates.

“It was a concentrated effort,” Tully said. “You had to be very smooth.”

Skid Plate racing involves four-cylinder, front-wheel drive cars. The rear rims are chained so that they won’t spin, and steel plates are welded to the bottom of stock rims.

“It’s very slick,” Tully said. “It’s like driving a sleigh but without big horses in the front.”

The estimated cost to make such a car ready to race is between $700 and $1,000. Tully noted that the low cost is conducive to attracting new drivers.

“You have to really be patient,” he said.

Tully drove a 1992 Honda Accord which previously had been classified as a gross polluter. The car’s registration had also expired and it was not economically feasible for anybody to restore that car to street-legal status.

“Rather than junk it out, we’ll have a little fun with it,” Tully said.

Veteran demolition derby driver Robert Rice of Hawthorne convinced Toyota Speedway at Irwindale management to experiment with the Skid Plate races, which have been shown on motorsports cable and satellite television channels.

Rice built most of the cars in the Irwindale race, including Tully’s.

In August several drivers tested the cars at Irwindale to ensure the configuration would not damage the paved track, and in early October several drivers participated in an exhibition with the Skid Plate vehicles.

Irwindale scheduled its first Skid Plate race for the track’s Night of Destruction and Halloween Celebration.

Tully started the race on the inside of the second row and was fourth after one lap before spinning in the second lap. He spun several times during the race.

“If you were too fast or too slow you would spin,” he said. “It actually made you practice car control.”

Tully also had more controlled spins to avoid out-of-control cars in front of him. He was able to pass several cars when he had forward motion.

“You had to stay on the gas and just pick a spot and go around the other cars,” he said. “It was a finesse race.”

The race only saw one red flag stoppage, which occurred midway through the competition. Tully took the lead shortly afterwards when Stephan Koch spun.

Tully didn’t know he had taken the lead, since some of the cars were a lap down. “I knew I was up there towards the front,” he said. “I started lapping some cars.”

Tully was passed by Ken Michaelian while Tully was avoiding a spinning car in front of him, but Michaelian was soon stuck behind a spun car himself and lost control to return the lead to Tully.

“Racing out there, you have to race the track, not the other cars,” Tully said.

He realized that he was in the lead on the last lap. “They threw the white flag at me,” he said.

Tully was hit from behind on the last lap between turns three and four. “I was able to get it under way again and cross the checkered in first place,” he said.

Jonathon DeStefano finished in second place while Tommy Mason took third.

The win was Tully’s first at what was originally Irwindale Speedway and his first on an asphalt track.

He previously raced in the Modified and Super Stock division at Irwindale on the speedway’s half-mile oval.

The Skid Plate race was Tully’s first race at Irwindale since 2004 and his first ever on the 1/3-mile track.

The 66-year-old Tully made his racing debut with go-karts at the age of 18 and made his stock car debut at the dirt Ascot track in 1978.

In his early years at Ascot, he pulled onto the oval and caused a 15-car collision. Thirteen of those cars, including his, were destroyed, earning him the nickname “Tear ’Em Up Tully.”

Tully has also won main events at the Ascot, Oildale (Bakersfield), Victorville, and Perris dirt ovals.

He also raced at Irwindale’s Speedway 605, which is now closed, but did not win a main event there. He moved to Fallbrook in 2001.

Tully’s crew for the night consisted of David Krebs, Scott McMichael, and John “Hoss” Zimmerman.

The car was sponsored by Jimmy Altman Racing, Pick Your Park/LKQ, Robert Rice Racing, and Village News, Inc.


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