Irwindale Event Center

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Irwindale Event Center not closing after all, will continue with new operators

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The Irwindale Event Center’s death sentence has been commuted.

Around 7 p.m. PT Thursday night, the facility in Irwindale, California, signed a contract with new operators that will keep it open beyond January 2018, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Bob Beck, the announcer for the facilities’ drag strip, revealed to fans over the PA system and Facebook Live an hour later that the track had signed the deal.

The surprise comes four months after it was announced the track would close after Jan. 31 with the landowners, Irwindale Outlet Partners, LLC, not wanting to extend the lease. It came as a surprise to Jim Cohan, the CEO of Team 211 Entertainment, which runs the facility.

Tim Huddleston, who has three Late Model championships at Irwindale, is involved in the venture with Justice Brothers and the property owners.

The land owners had planned to build an outlet mall.Those plans changed and in late November they approached Team 211 Entertainment about extending the lease.

“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 said in press release.

The facility, which opened in 1999 as Irwindale Speedway, is home to paved 1/2 and 1/3-mile ovals and the drag strip.

The track has hosted 26 K&N Pro Series West races since it opened.

This is the third time the track has received a reprieve from being closed. It was shut down in 2011 after its owners declared bankruptcy, but reopened in 2013.

In 2015, the track survived after the developers of an outlet mall allowed it to remain open until construction began.

Track guaranteed to run only through July before it could be demolished

(AP Photo/San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Walt Mancini, File)
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Irwindale Event Center, which appeared would be closed after last season, has assurances it can run through at least July, according to a report in the Pasadena Star-News.

The track held its first event of the season last weekend.

The track’s future has been in doubt since a real estate and investment firm purchased the 63-acre site in Oct. 2013. Pasadena, California, officials approved development plans for a  700,000-square foot outlet mall last year. Construction was expected to have begun this month, but that date has been pushed back for at least six months, the newspaper reported.

The Star-News also reported that the track’s contract to operate would continue to renew until the developer secured 65 percent of its tenants.

The track’s schedule includes a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West on March 19. Defending series champion Chris Eggleston won last year’s event. The track also will host NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races.

“We’re very excited about being back for 2016,” Irwindale Event Center President/CEO Jim Cohan said in a statement on the track’s website. “Our fans have been great and very patient, and we hope that they’ll have a wonderful time with all of the exciting motor-entertainment that we’ve got lined up for them this season. And the same goes for all of the competitors and crews that put on the show. They’ve been very understanding and loyal, and we couldn’t have asked for more.”