Home > Coverage > GALLERY> Fond Memories of Irwindale Speedway

GALLERY> Fond Memories of Irwindale Speedway

Mooneyes, Mooneyes Xmas PArty, Irwindale Speedway, hot rod

I really don’t have many details on this at all… but yesterday on Twitter, I heard someone saying that Irwindale Speedway was shutting down for racing this year. I posted up something about this on the MotorMavens Facebook, but didn’t want to put anything up on our actual website until I verified this to be true.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Today, I received a single-sentence email from Doug Stokes, Irwindale Speedway’s Communications/PR officer, and a friend I’ve known ever since drifting events started up at Irwindale. This is all the email said:

“Irwindale, Calif. (February 13, 2012, 1:30PM ) – – The management of Irwindale Speedway today announced that the 2012 racing season has been cancelled.
# – # – #”

In light of this, I’ve decided to put up a post with a bunch of photos from some of the good times we had at Irwindale Speedway… Feel free to throw in links of your own in the comments below, or in the MotorMavens Forum! We’d love to see your photos from Irwindale!

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

One of the coolest things about Irwindale was the fact that it was the home to more than just NASCAR or drifting events; it was also a home to some pretty amazing hot rod culture events, like the annual Mooneyes Christmas Party.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Another thing that I’ll never forget about Irwindale… it was the very first time the MotorMavens Crew threw our very own car show, Mass Appeal, in December 2010.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Mass Appeal was really fun for me personally, because with the help of all our friends in the scene, we were able to blend together some of our favorite Japanese cars, European cars, and even some of our favorite super low hot rods… all at the same event! What made it even better was the fact that we were able to do the event at our home track, right there off the 605 freeway and Live Oak.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Seriously, what a fun event… Japanese bosozoku cars, restored classic cars, and even widebody SCCA autocross BMWs all together…

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

I loved how even the parking lot of the speedway was able to unite people from all different walks of life. These people were bound by a common interest – the love of cars!

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

There were lots of professional drift events held at Irwindale, but some of my personal favorite times at the track were actually when I was attending smaller, grassroots drift events like Drift Day and Sideways Sundays.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Of course, a big reason why a lot of people know Irwindale Speedway is because of huge professional drifting events like Formula Drift. There’s nothing like the energy and “big party” atmosphere of the pit area at a Formula D event.

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

Here’s Tony Brakohiapa laying down big smoke at the 2010 Formula D Finale at Irwindale. I haven’t seen Tony B in quite a while, but he was definitely killing it that season!

Irwindale Speedway Closing images

I used to live very close to this track, so I was ALWAYS at Irwindale Speedway back in the day… especially when drifting was first being introduced to the USA, back in 2003! That’s when my career as an automotive photographer was just starting.

It has definitely been an honor to have the MotorMavens colors displayed on Irwindale’s concrete barriers, and to have our flags flying high above the pit area. I feel lucky to have been able to experience all these amazing events at The House that Drifting Built. The fact that there won’t be any racing at Irwindale this year came as a surprise to a lot of us. Let’s hope the Irwindale management team can figure something out. It would be such a shame to lose such a great venue for motorsports life.

:: Antonio Alvendia

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18 Responses

  1. Irwindale speedway is where I saw D1GP in person for the first time. I flew from NYC to Cali just for this. Was an amazing experience which I wont soon forget. Sad to hear the race season is cancelled there, hope it all works itself out some how.

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  3. @shayan: Not sure on any details yet. I tried calling Irwindale’s PR officer, Doug Stokes, repeatedly today but he didn’t answer. His phone was probably blowing up!!!

    @Edo: D1GP at Irwindale was MAGICAL, don’t you think??! It was just crazy… so different from Formula D, even though I think FD is dope in a different way. What year did you come out here bro?

  4. kevin

    wow that seriously sucks.. man, Im hope its for a good reason and that they don’t close the track indefinitely.. if so, the streets is where they are pushing us.. if so, we will need to find a way to scramble police radios so we have a chance to get away when the popo’s show up..

    on another topic. This little pop up window that follows me while viewing your site is very annoying. I hope you take it down sooner than later, as I am sure it will push others and I away from this site.

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  6. Carrie

    Sucks big time. Hubby and I have been going to Turkey night for 15 years and were just about ready to introduce it to our daughters. So sad that yet another fun family adventure is being taken away. R.I.P.

  7. Nothing Official … However … Don’t write the Speedway off just yet.

    And thanks so much Antonio for reminding us of how much the place means to so very many people …

    Your friend!

    PS: Hey Antonio, if you called me the track lines, they are temporarliy down as is the website.

  8. Just got this email from my friend Jeff Yip, who sent me this story by Keith Lair:

    Irwindale Speedway has closed its doors for now.
    “The management of Irwindale Speedway today announced that the 2012 racing season has been cancelled,” track CEO Jim Williams and general manager Bob DeFazio said in a joint statement on Monday afternoon.

    No other announcement was made and DeFazio did not return phone calls.

    The facility, built and leased by Irwindale Speedway LLC and considered the best short track in the nation, instructed its vendors to clear out belongings at the property last Friday. Only the L.A. Racing school, which is not affiliated with the corporation, will remain.

    “Irwindale Speedway LLC is out of business,” L.A. Racing owner Jim Cohen said on Monday.

    Cohen said he paid rent to the corporation and he now expects to pay it to either Nu-Way Industries Inc., which owns the property, or whoever takes over what was a long-term lease. L.A. Racing has its own safety crew and handles its own liability, so it can keep operating at the track.

    For most racers, racing fans and those in the racing industry, the closure of the half- and third-mile ovals and the eighth-mile drag strip has hit hard.

    “It’s devastating,” said Jeff Schrader, who was the track’s first competition director and owns Irwindale-based Racecar Factory, which builds race cars. Hundreds of his cars have competed at the track since it opened in 1999.

    “Jim Williams built a beautiful facility,” he said. “It’s just a sad day for all motorsports. I feel sad for the passion that man had in building that beautiful facility.”

    “They’ve closed my summer home,” fan James Shertz said. “Do you know how many long faces there are? And it’s a Monday, to boot.”

    The track was home to NASCAR’s Toyota All-Star Showdown seven times, which was was a nationally televised event that drew the top racers from the minor-league touring divisions, and the attention of all of NASCAR’s bigwigs and major teams. The track also held the USAC Turkey Night Grand Prix, the grand dame of midget racing, and it is called the “House of Drift” because it is considered the best drifting facility in the world. It was the first to hold international drifting events in the U.S., starting in 2003, and has been home to the Formula D finale since the series’ inception.

    “Irwindale Speedway is a great facility that brought some tremendous racing to fans in Southern California,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR’s vice president of regional and touring series. “Today’s news is an obvious disappointment. There are a lot factors out of our control in a track having to make a decision like this. We wish the track the best of luck and hope racing returns in the near future.”

    Attendance peaked in 2002, averaging 5,372 fans. In 28 events last season attendance averaged approximately 2,805, the smallest in track history. Fourteen events had crowds of 2,000 or fewer people. The August Formula D event had a track-record 12,000 in attendance.

    The amount of cars racing also dwindled. In 2002, there were 24 race night in which there were 100 or more cars racing in various divisions. Last year, there were only two race nights of 100 or more racers.

    “I can remember sitting in my race car in staging one night and looking at the crowd and saying to myself `There can’t be more than 1,000 people in the stands,’ ” Mini Stocks series regular Chuck Gay recalled about last season. “It looked very pathetic.”

    NASCAR announced plans to drop the Showdown late last season when it apparently could not find a sponsor for the event. The track, which became Toyota Speedway at Irwindale when it signed a naming rights deal with the Southern California Toyota Dealers Association in 2008, lost that sponsorship when the contract was not renewed after this past season.

    The final two races of the regular season and the champion’s awards banquet were also cancelled.

    A who’s who of motor racing has taken laps around the track. Among those who have won races on the track are NASCAR Cup drivers Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, David Gilliland, A.J. Allmendinger and IndyCar racer Davey Hamilton.

    “My hope is that it gets reopened somehow,” Schrader said. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens. My gut feeling is that something good will come out of this.”

    Schrader said that roughly 70 percent of his business was devoted to Irwindale racers. He said he has been working with racers in Northern California and Canada.

    Cohen said his business has been steadily growing and he sees no end in sight.

    “This is too nice of a facility,” he said. “There are too many racers that live the sport out here. “I’m quite confident someone very talented will be coming in here.”

    Contact Keith via email or by phone at 626-962-8811, ext. 2242.

  9. Felipe // Los Lowcos

    I too saw my very first drift event back in 04 or 05 via D1GP and since then, ive been to every Formula Drift event there. It’s a damn shame to hear about this. Round 7 is something i look forward to every year when the finals hit Irwindale. I’ll keep my fingers crossed in hopes that all of this gets resolved.

  10. Weasel

    Well, it was a good run. Another great place for people to race legally suffers from our lovely, assbackwards economy. It’s OK though. The revenue the police will generate from all the displaced racers now taking to the streets will help make everything better. /sarcasm
    Stay safe Irwindale.

  11. Antonio, I flew from El Salvador to watch the D1GP in 2006, and I loved my first time at the magical track and the event! If I ever wanted to attend another drift event, I would wait to go to the House of Drift, I just love that place! This is bad news, even for me, that live outside of the USA :(

  12. herbrockone

    WOW! That sucks! I remember back in the day when I used to hang out at Antonio’s place in Westco and we could hear the cars running on the track from his place, it was awesome. You would think it’s a bunch of peeps running around the neighborhood it was so loud. I’ve been to EVERY major drift event at Irwindale, since the clug 4ag drift days to the Ikaten, D1, RSR festival and all the Formula D events.

    Antonio, hit up Kumakubo see if he’d like to add this venue to his track collection? And he could add a zoo too, plenty of space. Just an idea.

  13. @Felipe: YES! So you remember the days of D1 Grand Prix and the early days of Formula D. Those were some great memories!

    @Weasel: Yeah, I don’t think we’ll have TOO many issues with displaced racers taking it to the streets. The drifting guys still have Willow Springs and Adams Motorsports Park. The drag guys still have California Speedway… And well, the street racing guys will always be street racing guys. The BIG events though, they will need a venue. I hope that this all gets sorted out, and someone buys Irwindale and gets it going again before Formula D finals!

    @Pedro: What an experience that must have been for you! Seeing D1GP for the FIRST TIME at Irwindale in 2006, coming all the way from El Salvador! Wow! I’m sure the place must have left a BIG impression on you!

    @Herb: HAHAHAHA good idea dude. Although I think Kumakubo might have bigger problems to worry about, like attracting folks back to Ebisu and preventing them from worrying about nuclear fallout and whatnot.

  14. There have been numerous rumors regarding Irwindale Speedway. Please permit this statement to provide clarification:

    1) THE PERMANENT TRACK GRANDSTANDS ARE NOT (NOR ARE THEY IN ANY DANGER OF) BEING TORN DOWN. There was a report that the portable, temporary bleachers outside the first turn were being dismantled. That is correct. Those temporary stands were rented and the company that owned them was simply removing their property.

    2) THE TRACK WAS NOT BUILT OVER A POTENTIAL MINING SITE, IT WAS A SAND AND GRAVEL MINING SITE, AND AFTER MATERIALS EXTRACTION, BECAME A MINING RECLAMATION PROJECT. THE SITE CANNOT BE MINED. There are a set of very strict rules about the use and development of this sort of property, which are being carefully followed. In 1993, the City of Irwindale approved the site to be used as a Swap Meet, and in 1997, approved its use as Irwindale Speedway.

    3) NU-WAY INDUSTRIES, INC. OWNS THE LAND, THE RACE TRACK, AND THE EQUIPMENT TO OPERATE THE TRACK. An entity called Irwindale Speedway, LLC. leased the facility from Nu-Way Industries, Inc. On February 13, 2012, Irwindale Speedway, LLC filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 7 of the bankruptcy code.



  15. Dusty McDonald

    I just heard this story from some one who I met fishing and I have to say I was sick and in a total state of shock!

    This is the best 1/2 mile track in the country and it needs to be saved for the future of the sport and the new up in coming drivers to be the future of NASCAR.

    This track for me and many others is a special place and the memories are for myself thought of every day.

    If it were not for a disabling spine injury I would still be racing here. there are many people who will be counting on this track to reopen and although I now live 7 hours away from the track I need to think some one will come along and save this special place.

    There has to be a sprint cup driver out there that want to own a race track.come on guys do some thing before this turns into a remnant of the past.

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