Irwindale Speedway

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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.

Irwindale Speedway to close on Jan. 31, 2018

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After 17 years of racing since its 1999 opening, Irwindale Speedway, now called the Irwindale Event Center, will cease operations on Jan. 31, 2018

The half-mile track in Irwindale, California, announced Wednesday that it had been informed by a “representative” of the track’s property owner that it would be closing.

The news came as a surprise to Team 211 Entertainment CEO Jim Cohan, who said in a statement that the track had been preparing to announce its schedule for next season. Cohan said the track will hold all of its scheduled races this season.

“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,” Cohan said. “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.”

Irwindale has been the host of 26 K&N Pro Series West races since it opened. Todd Gilliland won the last two races there in a March 25 doubleheader.

The track survived being shutdown in 2015 after developers of an outlet mall allowed it to remain open until construction began.

That year Nate Ryan lamented the impending doom of the track, which has been the site of wins by NASCAR’s Joey Logano and David Gilliland. Brendan Gaughan won three straight K&N West races there in 2001.

The track was shut down in 2011 after its owners declared bankruptcy, but reopened in 2013.

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Need a racing fix? Tune in at 9 p.m. ET tonight for NASCAR K&N Pro Series at Irwindale

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You say you’re going through NASCAR withdrawal with no races scheduled this weekend due to the Easter holiday?

Have no fear, my friend. NBCSN has racing for you, and all you have to do is tune in at 9 pm ET tonight (Friday) to catch the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 from Irwindale Speedway in Southern California.

The broadcast of the season-opening K&N Pro Series West event will run from 9 to 10 pm ET. The race was held last Saturday, with Todd Gilliland – son of NASCAR driver David Gilliland – starting on the pole.

Will Gilliland hold on to win the race? Tune in to find out.

If you can’t watch on TV, you can view the race on NBC Sports Live Extra.

If you plan to stream today’s show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you plug in that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 9 pm ET to watch live via the stream.

U.S. Navy Officer trying to climb NASCAR’s ranks while serving country

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At local tracks throughout the country, numerous stories unfold from youngsters trying to work their way to NASCAR’s top levels to mothers, fathers or even grandparents racing because there’s nothing else quite like it.

Among those stories is one that involves 27-year-old Jesse Iwuji (pronounced ee-WOO-jee).

He’s a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

The Navy Times details Iwuji’s desire to climb NASCAR’s ranks, starting in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. He’s raced Late Models at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway this season.

Iwuji, who played free safety on the football team, graduated from the Naval Academy in 2010 and was commissioned as a Surface Warfare Officer. The Dallas native is assigned to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and is a student services officer.

Iwuji has served on two Arabian Gulf deployments, totaling 15 months. His service obligation ends in 2017.

Speed always has fascinated him. In 2010, he bought a Dodge Challenger and set a goal of driving it 200 mph in the Mojave Mile. He eventually accomplished that goal and turned his focus to racing. Iwuji is approved in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series to run on any track 5/8 of a mile or smaller and any road course.

“This is the most out-of-the-box-type thing I’m doing, and I’m going to make it happen,” he told the Navy Times.

Just like any driver, Iwuji is looking for sponsorship. He admits his role as an active-duty soldier is “helping me a lot because people are more supportive of what I’m doing, because I’m blazing a new trail.’’

 

Mayor tells those wanting to save Irwindale Speedway it is ‘out of our hands’

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Irwindale, Calif., Mayor Mark Breceda told a group of motorsports supporters looking to save Irwindale Speedway that the matter is “out of our hands.’’

Breceda made the comments during a city council meeting Wednesday after supporters voiced opposition to a decision to demolish Irwindale Speedway, which has hosted NASCAR-sanctioned races, for a 700,000-square foot outlet mall, according to a report by The Pasadena Star-News.

Breceda said at the meeting that the city did not have control over how the land would be used since it is privately owned.

“No one hates to see it leave more than we do, but it’s out of our hands,” Breceda said, according to the Star-News. “If you can convince the investor to do it, that’s a different story.”

The Irwindale City Council unanimously approved a development agreement March 25 with Irwindale Outlet Partners, LLC for the 63-acre site, according to the Star-News. As part of the agreement with the city, the track has been allowed to continue to operate until development begins, which could be as soon as 2016. The Star-News reported that the outlet mall is expected to add more than 5,000 jobs and generate $2.6 million in sales tax revenue annually.

Irwindale Speedway opened in 1999 and has had its share of memorable moments, including wins by Joey Logano, Brendan Gaughan and David Gilliland.