LAPAZ, Ind. – Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011 — Don’t miss the opportunity to meet NASCAR great Ernie Irvan, guest of honor at the Plymouth Speedway awards banquet Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012.The banquet will be held at the LaPaz Community Building, behind the fire station on the east side of U.S. 31. Doors open at 5 p.m.; dinner is at 6 p.m. and the awards program starts at 7 p.m., with entertainment by the local band GreenFire to follow.
Irvan, 52, a Daytona 500 winner, has also been voted one of NASCAR’s top 50 drivers. In 1994, Irvan was involved in a horrible crash that nearly ended his career. That year, Irvan led more laps than any other driver, even though he only competed in 20 races. After a long recovery, Irvan came back at the end of the 1995 season, where he notched two top-10 showings. In 1996, Irvan was back in the winner’s circle both at Richmond and New Hampshire. His career spanned from 1987 to 1999, and Irvan recorded 15 total NASCAR Cup wins. He finished fifth in points in 1991, his career best
Irvan suffered critical brain and lung injures in that 1994 crash during practice at Michigan International Speedway, when witnesses said Irvan’s tire deflated and sent him into the wall at Turn 2, at more than 170 miles per hour. Irvan was flown from the scene and given only a 10 percent chance of making it through the night. Within two months, Irvan’s determination to recover was witnessed as he appeared at the NASCAR awards banquet where he was presented with the True Value Hard Charger award. He was also awarded for most poles in that same season
Irvan returned to the NASCAR circuit full time in 1995, earning pole positions and dominating as a lap leader once again. In June, 1997, Irvan took the checkered flag for an emotional win at Michigan International Speedway.
When the August Michigan race came around, on the fifth anniversary of his near life-ending accident, Irvan was practicing for the Busch Series race when he crashed and was again airlifted from the track. He suffered a bruised lung and was diagnosed with a mild brain injury. Two weeks later, Irvan reluctantly announced his retirement from the sport he dearly loved.
Deadline for ordering tickets for the banquet is Dec. 28, and are $25 per person. Tickets will be held at Will Call under the ticket-orderer's name. Send check or money order to: Plymouth Speedway, 64851 Millet Road, Lakeville, IN 46536; Attention: Lynn Bingaman. Tickets may also be ordered at www.plymouthspeedway.net. Drivers must be present to receive their awards and the event is open to the public. Irvan will be holding an autograph session after awards are presented.
Visit www.plymouthspeedway.net or "like" the track's Facebook page: Search Plymouth Speedway.