Southern California’s Irwindale Speedway has nine lives, it would seem — and if you’re a racer in the drag racing-barren region, that’s a great thing.
The multi-purpose motorsports venue in the city of Irwindale has earned yer another stay of execution, news media sources in the area reported last week, with the signing of a new lease that will keep it alive and running for at least the next two years. The facility, which features a 1/3-mile oval and an 1/8-mile dragstrip, has lived a tumultuous existence, with imminent closures a nearly annual concern, but when it was announced last year that it was to be closed and demolished in early 2018 to make way for retail development, many were certain it truly was Irwindale’s last hurrah.
But on December 28, a new lease was extended to and signed by Agoura Hills racer Tim Huddleston and his Justice Brothers business, operating under the moniker Group of Motorsports Enthusiasts.
Team 211 Entertainment and its CEO, Jim Cohan, who had been operating the facility since rescuing it from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2012, were informed in July that their lease would not be renewed, with a planned closure on January 31, 2018. Three months later, the property owners changed direction, offering Cohan’s group a one-year lease extension. With another racing venture already in place and first right of refusal, Cohan served as a liaison with Huddleston and the Irwindale ownership to negotiate a new deal and a seamless continuation of racing operations.
“Being presented with the right of first refusal, we quickly reached out to Huddleston’s group helping to negotiate a deal that would assure both a smooth transition and the continued operation of the track … It was just the right thing to do,” Cohan explained.
“These are the right people to operate this facility. They have the background, the acumen, and the energy,” Cohan concluded, “They know racing and they know marketing. This is really a win for everyone, especially the fans.”
Opened in 1999, the facility was sold to Irwindale Outlet Partners LLC in 2012, which leased it to Cohan’s group on a year-to-year basis while devising its plan to develop a 700,000 square foot shopping mall on the property. Reports suggest more recent plans had scrapped the all in favor of the construction of a large truck stop.