R.I.P. Irwindale?

Irwindale Speedway

“Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, once hailed as perhaps the best short track for minor-league NASCAR racing, said Monday it has canceled its 2012 season.

Amid speculation that the half-mile speedway might be closed or sold in the face of dwindling crowds, its management issued a one-sentence statement announcing the cancellation and providing no other details.”

Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2012

With the closure of Irwindale Speedway, the Los Angeles area is short yet another racing track. Since Del West Engineering is located just north of L.A. (in Valencia, Calif., to be exact), that caught our attention here at The Winner’s Circle. What, we wondered, have we lost this week? Following are thoughts from a few folks. at our company and beyond.

Dan Esslinger, owner, Esslinger Engineering, El Monte, Calif.

Midget engine builder

We only got to race there once a year, but it was Turkey Night , so that’s a big one for us. But we think we (as midget engine builders) might actually gain from this change. We’re hoping to see that thing get sold. There’s some rumors that a pretty well known NASCAR driver and a pretty well known oil company might be interested in buying it. Who knows, maybe someone gets there with a fresh vision, and money always follows vision.

Toyota Motorsports, former racetrack sponsor, Torrance, Calif.

Official comment on Irwindale closure

Toyota’s contract with the Irwindale Speedway ended at the end of December. Toyota still supports motorsports in Southern California, including the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (2012 marks the 38th year), motocross and NASCAR. In March, Toyota’s Camry Hybrid will be the pace car at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at California Motor Speedway in Fontana.

AJ Hampton, founder, proposed AV Motorplex in Northern LA County

The news of the closure takes me back many years ago, when on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon, you had seven tracks you could go to and race. It’s a sad thing to see those places disappear.

That’s why we’re trying to bring a drag strip to Southern California. We’re still negotiating at this point, and doing some planning, but we know it will be in LA County.

I went to Irwindale one time, right after it opened. Now keep in mind, I’m a drag racing guy, but it wasn’t what I expected. They stepped it up somewhat from (what used to exist in) Saugus, and I thought some of the interest was lost. They brought in more competition, more professional people, which is okay, but it pushed out the other guys. You couldn’t go to your garage and build a car and expect to compete there.

Phil Martin, sales manager, Del West USA

Irwindale was the most famous paved short track in the area. And it was a NASCAR regional track. With that track gone, where do you get your future West Coast NASCAR stars? Where are those guys going to race? If Perris Auto Speedway is the dirt track hub in Southern California, then Irwindale was the paved hub.

Now, everybody will tell you – Southern California, that’s where racing started. But that’s not where it’s ending.

And finally, on a hopeful note…

Jim Liaw, founder and co-president, Formula DRIFT, in an official statement

There has been recent news regarding the status of Irwindale Speedway.  This situation is still very fluid and there is nothing definitive on the future of the facility or Formula DRIFT’s event there.  There are rumors ranging from full closure to “business as usual” with changes only to staff and their in-house NASCAR and drag racing events, again nothing is definitive.  The current issue from what we understand is between the facility operators and the property owners. Formula DRIFT will be monitoring the situation at Irwindale and will provide updates via our website and social media channels.  As we have proven in the past, no matter what happens, Formula DRIFT will be prepared.

- Jim Liaw, President and Co-founder of Formula DRIFT

One Comment on "R.I.P. Irwindale?"

  1. John H says:

    It doesn’t make any sense to me but I guess the TRD sponsorship was really key. Maybe Dan Esslinger is right and this is just preclude to selling the place. Because if you don’t operate it, it just loses money, straight and simple. Right?

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