In a time when we need more tracks to further promote safe racing, we received devestating news that the Southern California Irwindale track will be shutting down in 2018. Jim Cohan, CEO for Team 211 announced recently that the owners of the Irwindale track event property have provided them with a final date we will see racing. “We were notified this week by the owner’s representative that January 31, 2018 will be our final day on the Irwindale property.”
Cohan went on to say, “First and foremost, everyone should know that we’ll continue to operate Irwindale Event Center right up to our final weeks, as we’ve been doing for the past five years; providing great family motorsports and related entertainment in the most professional way possible. Our full 2017 schedule of NASCAR, Drag Strip, LA Racing Experience events, and special events will run as published. And, in fact, we’re planning on adding a couple of extra events to the calendar to honor all of the competitors who raced and wrenched here at Irwindale since it opened in 1999.”
“In all honesty, we were here and in it for the long haul, in fact we were in the process of putting out our complete schedule for the 2018 season. All that made this news very difficult for me to hear, and very hard on our whole team.”
Of course Cohan went on to thank all of the many sponsors and supporters who worked with the facility over the years, “Without them, we would have never been able to do what we’ve done. I won’t name them all here but they all deserve a huge amount credit for this place still being around. They’ve believed in us and we’ve believed in them … those partnerships have meant a great deal to everyone involved.”
Continuing on, Cohan also thanked the many motorsports sanctioning bodies that elected Irwindale as the site of many major events over the years, saying, “Their confidence in our abilities was a high compliment for us, we always tried to make each show better than the last one. That’s just the way all of our people are wired. And …we’d be somewhat amiss if we didn’t mention our friends in the City of Irwindale, and working with them to have an event center that everyone involved with could be proud of.”
“In the end I’m most proud of our whole extended team right across the board; they’re a very dedicated group of people who picked up what was left when the original operators left in 2012. Working together these people rebuilt this facility’s reputation as one of the finest short tracks in the country, a great stock car driving experience, and an exciting street legal drag strip. I’m the one who is most often quoted; but they’re the team that did all the work.”
“I simply want everyone out there to understand that this team is going to work just as hard to keep this a great fan-friendly facility running strong all the way until midnight January 30, 2018. We all wish that we could have given our racers many more than the five years we were able to and sincerely hope that we entertained all of our guests along the way…”
This comes as complete shock for many racers and visitors alike, and it shows how important it is that we continue support for tracks that do exist. Unfortunately, for those who have followed the Irwindale track history, the news of it closing was no surprise at all. A few years back, the land that it’s built upon was sold to a shopping center developer, and other than rumors there has never been a real reason to fear anything. Even when the land was sold, Cohan and the team continued to be active with scheduling events. With this annoucement however, we won’t see any racing for 2018.
The Irwindale track has been home to many large events over the years, including X-Games, Formula Drift, Global Rallycross, concerts, films, TV, and commercial shoots.
Our growing fear now is that Irwindale was sort of a “safe haven” to keep racers off the streets, and provide a safe outlet for enthusiasts to drive at the limit without needing to drive for hours on end. Did Irwindale stop street racing? Certainly not, but at least we had the option.
Although we don’t own the land there, it seems unwise to get rid of this track…should we expect to see more new homes or shopping malls? It seems that might just be what we end up with, and it’s the last dang thing we need.