Skid Plate racing rules are straightforward. Any 1980 or newer four or six-banger front wheel drive car with a 90-inch or longer wheelbase is OK. No secret reinforcements or buttressing allowed. No added weight. Hitting the buffet a few times to add weight to the driver before the race is OK. A Skid Plate Race car must be stock at its core. If you are going to run a V6, two of its cylinders must be disabled. The key to Skid Plate racing are the rear wheels, and absence of rear tires. Mild steel flat plates welded onto stock rear steel wheels are the only racing-spec part. The skid plates are available from the House of Irwindale, and cannot be modified. Auto Soccer and Demo Derby Master of Mayhem Robert Rice created and tested the rear skid plate wheels for use in this unique to Irwindale style of 1/3 mile banked oval motor racing. Bolt the rear skid plates on, attach the safety chains, pull up the parking brake, and it’s time to go racing!
Over 20 cars and drivers showed up for a Memorial Day Weekend Saturday night race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale – the home race track of Skid Plate racing. When the green flag dropped the field charged and slid down the front straight at maximum possible velocity. Perhaps a little too hot. Most of the cars settled into the turn one corner infield like the defense players on an old Sears electric football game. After a few seconds the front wheels restored traction to the field and the race was again under way. 20 cars would attempt to go 20 laps. Top speed of the event went to James Altman, who not only went ass end into the wall, but lost not one but two of his front tires before he could get to the elusive 20 laps. James posted a blazing 36.5 miles per hour in the process. Mr. Altman, we salute you!
We had a chance to drive one of these specially engineered and race-prepped automobiles around the third-mile at Irwindale on a Thursday before the race. Back in our formative driving years we strategically placed plastic lunch trays under the rear wheels of a Dodge Omni in a snow covered parking lot and pulled up the parking brake. Mayhem ensued. There is a vast difference between goofball teenagers spinning donuts around a snow-covered parking lot, and trying to keep a similarly-equipped car going around a 1/3 mile asphalt banked oval. Driving a Skid Plate car around the track is a great deal more difficult than it looks, but a lot more fun than one might think. Just when you think you have things under control, all control is lost. Spin city, and you’re the Mayor!
While we were certainly not the first or last hooligans to discover the plastic lunch tray trick, it took Robert Rice and the House of Irwindale crew to organize Skid Plate racing into low budget motor racing of the highest order. Most of these cars were picked up for under 500 bucks, or less than free. Modificatons beyond the purchase of a set of skid plate wheels cost next to nothing. The skid plate wheels can be purchased for around 150 bucks ready to roll, erm…skid. At the current time the stock three-point seat belt and OEM driver’s seat fall under the safety rules. A lot of the drivers and cars trade in their rear skid plate wheels for tire-shod versions to run the same cars in Demolition Derby, Chain Racing, or even Trailer Racing competition for maximum automotive recycling, and a crowd-pleasing return on the ever-dwindling motorsports dollar.