The Irwindale Speedway holds a small, but important role in the tiny California town which houses it, and a great big role in regional drag racing history. Built in 1999, the Event Center and Speedway houses a 6000 seat stadium and twin oval track with an 1/8-mile drag strip, drift facilities and a stock car driving school. The Speedway supports a variety of different series in addition to drag racing and drifting including midget, stock car, sprint car, supermodifieds, legends, trucks and others. It’s a true all-in-on facility with an enthusiastic fan base, and it has already come back from the dead once after the original owners declared bankruptcy in 2012. The track was closed for a year, but re-opened in 2013 as the Irwindale Speedway under the leadership of Jim Cohan.
However, a city council vote in mid-March will end the racing dreams of many. By 2017, the Speedway will be turned into an outlet mall, and the role as a home for multiple forms of racing will become just a memory in the history of the sport, and the town. Citing the economic boost and influx of jobs that a shopping center will bring to the region, the city council voted to approve plans to demolish the Speedway in favor of a 700,000-square foot outlet mall. The Speedway will finish out the 2015 season, but the timeline past that point remains unclear. The demolition won’t start until a “certain number of tenant shops are secured for the outlet mall,” according to the L.A. Times, so there is a possibility for a 2016 season.
Jim Cohan, president and CEO of the Irwindale, released a statement on March 24 promising open communication and commitment to the 2015 season. The loss of the Speedway is another blow against regional raceways around the country. A large number have closed or changed hands due to economic reasons, whether from a decline in spectators or participants, many who are either withdrawing from racing due to the costs, or have lost the taste for the sport.
Irwindale represented the passion for all forms of racing that is part of the Southern California car and racing culture, and its loss will be deeply felt. So, for now, lets enjoy the 2015 season which kicked off it’s Day of Destruction series in February, and began night racing the weekend of March 28, 2015.
If you have a story about your local track or speedway closing, or the efforts it’s making to stay open and bring in new business, email us at [email protected] .