2002 K&N Filters 150 (lost footage of NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour race; 2002)

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This article has been tagged as NSFL due to its discussion of a fatal motor racing accident.


John Baker's car following the fatal crash.

Status: Lost

The 2002 K&N Filters 150 (also known as the 2002 Irwindale 150) was the sixth race of the 2002 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour Occurring on 8th June at the Irwindale Speedway, the race would ultimately be won by David Gilliland in a Chevrolet. However, the race is overshadowed by the fatal accident of John Baker, which occurred on lap 37 of the event.

Background[edit | edit source]

The 2002 K&N Filters 150 occurred during a period when the Irwindale Speedway was still being promoted as a safe track.[1] This was despite heavy criticism over the deaths of three drivers at the track prior to the event, including Casey Diemert and Keith Cowherd, who both died in 1999 during the track's opening season; and Christopher Shields in June 2001.[2][3][1] Lasting 150 laps or about 75 miles,[4] the race would be one of two 2002 NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour, the other being the Auto Club 150,[5] which occurred on 10th August and was won by Chevrolet's Burney Lamar.[6] Southwest Tour races would continue at the track until the Tour was discontinued after 2006.[7][8]

The Race[edit | edit source]

Prior to the race, qualifying commenced with John Baker winning the pole position with a speed of 100.66 mph.[9][4][2] Directly behind him was fellow Chevrolet driver Burney Lamar, with Pontiac's Eddy McKean lining up third.[4] David Gilliland qualified seventh out of 30 competitors.[4] When the race commenced on 8th June, Lamar quickly shot into the lead on the first lap, holding it until Craig Raudman in a Chevrolet overtook him.[4] Raudman then dominated the majority of the race, leading 128 consecutive laps, before dropping it to Gilliland on lap 138 when he experienced a flat tyre.[9][4] From there, Gilliland controlled the remaining of the race, edging out the Chevrolets of M.K. Kanke and Zach Niessner to claim victory and $5,425 in prize money.[9][4] Kanke finished 0.480 seconds behind, with Niessner taking third.[4]

Death of John Baker[edit | edit source]

Baker had lost the lead on the first lap, and was racing against Chevrolet's Sean Woodside on lap 37.[3][4] Both collided while negotiating Turn 2, causing Baker's car to dart towards the inside and into the path of Greg Voigt's Chevrolet.[3][9] After bouncing off Boigt's side, Baker slammed into the right side of the track and into an exposed entrance ramp head-on, with Austin Cameron also being involved.[3][9] While Baker was wearing a Hutchens head-and-shoulder device and an open-face helmet that was made mandatory for the Tour that year,[9][2] the crash, which was compared to Dale Earnhardt's fatal accident at the 2001 Daytona 500, caused him to suffer a basal skull fracture.[10][3] While he was immediately taken to the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, he was pronounced dead on arrival, aged 49.[9][2][3] A racing veteran having competed in the West Coast series for six years, he was praised by Raudman as being as having "loved racing and was a fun guy to be around."[9]

Baker's death was the first in the Southwest Tour since its formation in 1986, and the fourth at the track, prompting criticism towards Irwindale's organisers.[9][2][3] Its officials announced that racing would be postponed until a reconfiguration of the retaining wall occurring, including adding 120 feet of wall to the existing outer barrier on the south side of the paved oval.[10][3] The reconfiguration may well have been effective according to The Crash Photos Database, with it noting that nobody has perished at the speedway since Baker.[3][1]

Availability[edit | edit source]

It is known that the race was to be broadcast on tape delay just a few days after it was held.[1] However, the accident resulted in the race never making it to air.[1] As of the present day, no footage of the event has resurfaced, although a few photos can be publicly viewed.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Image[edit | edit source]

See Also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]