Three Generations of Gillilands to Race Each Other at Irwindale
July 7, 2014 | 10:00 A.M. EST
"I think Irwindale Speedway was a key part of my learning to race and, to me, it's one of the nicest if not the nicest racetrack I've ever raced on." (Photo: Getty Images)
Fifty-six-year-old Butch won the 1997 championship in the West Series with son David serving as his crew chief. Butch also competed in 10 Sprint Cup Series and 12 Camping World Truck Series races. He has not raced professionally since 2002.
Thirty-eight-year-old David is currently the driver of the No. 38 Ford for Front Row Motorsports in the Sprint Cup Series. Irwindale is one of the West Coast tracks where the California native developed his racing skills and also where he earned his first asphalt win. His infant son Todd, just three weeks old, was in Victory Lane for the celebration.
Now 14, Todd is in his first full season of stock-car racing, which has already included his first late-model pole and win at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., in May.
The idea to have the three Gillilands compete against each other came when the Irwindale half-mile oval re-opened last year after being shuttered in 2012.
"When Irwindale shut down, I was bummed that Todd would never be able to race there," said David. "I think Irwindale Speedway was a key part of my learning to race and, to me, it's one of the nicest if not the nicest racetrack I've ever raced on.
"Now that it's reopened, I was trying to do everything I could to get him to race there. And we got to looking at our (Sprint Cup) schedule this year, and on our July off weekend they had a Super Late Model race at Irwindale. So, I went to work and tried to drum up some cars for Todd and I to race against each other. Then I thought it'd be really cool to have three generations of Gillilands out there racing. So, we got a car for my dad to drive, too, and talked him into coming out and racing."
Operators of the resurgent speedway just east of Los Angeles are thrilled to host the family's friendly competition.
"Irwindale Speedway couldn't be more excited that the Gillilands chose our facility to host what is truly a unique event with three generations of West Coast racing stars -- and we feel that Todd is definitely an up-and-coming star -- coming home and competing against each other," said Jim Cohan, president and chief executive officer of Irwindale Event Center. "We feel this is truly a unique experience for our fans and their families to come and be part of a historic family event."
The track is opening the points-paying Pick Your Part Super Late Model event to entries from all over the West Coast, knowing drivers from near and far will want to take advantage of the unique opportunity.
"We want the veteran drivers who got to race against Butch and David to get to race against Todd, and the younger drivers who have never competed against Sprint Cup stars to get to race Butch and David," Cohan said.
The race will also mark several firsts for the Gillilands.
"It's going to be the first time that I'm racing against Todd and obviously the first time that he'll be racing against his grandpa," noted David. "We're really excited about it. It's an opportunity of a lifetime for us to have three generations racing against each other. It's something that not a lot of people get to do and I'm pretty proud to be able to do it."
Butch will enter the No. 38, his former West Series number; David will run No. 88, the number he ran in his West Series days at Irwindale; and Todd will drive his No. 98. The drivers will have support from Luke's Transmission, Sims Trucking, Eibach Springs and Wong Racing.
"When we get there, we're all going to be on the same team," said David. "But, my son wants to beat us both pretty bad. Hopefully we can all finish the race and just have a lot of fun doing it. And hopefully one of us will end up in Victory Lane."