Photo: Irwindale Speedway
By: Kobe Lambeth
On Jan. 31, 2018, Irwindale Speedway is set to become a thing of the past as the famed, short track in the San Gabriel Valley of southern California is expected to close its doors. The track has a unique setup of twin paved oval tracks (banked 1/2 and 1/3 mile) and produced exciting action on the track since the late 1990s with stock cars, sprint cars, midgets, and much more.
Sitting with family and friends on a Saturday night at Irwindale Speedway will become a thing of the past at the start of the new year. Memories are made at local short tracks that last for a lifetime. For a NASCAR official, who wished to remain anonymous, losing his “home track” is a massive blow to the San Gabriel Valley community, and it was the site of where he began his journey working for NASCAR.
“Without Irwindale, I wouldn’t be working in NASCAR today,” he told Daily NASCAR Scoop and More.
A big step towards making a career in motorsports is getting to the race track and building relationships with the people who are already involved in the business. What if the closure of Irwindale Speedway prevents someone else in the area from making their dream of being a NASCAR official come true? Having a local short track is a big advantage as it gives one the opportunity to meet people affiliated with NASCAR. Getting aligned with the right people may lead to a great opportunity in the industry. It is sad to think about the potential of a young person’s dreams being crushed due to the closure of a NASCAR home track.
“Your local short tracks are where young racers get their start,” said the NASCAR official. “You have both up and comers and cagey veterans battling it out every week.
“There’s an incredible bond with racing that gets formed at the local track.”
According to the NASCAR official, Irwindale Speedway had a few unique issues that led to its demise and it takes three levels of support to make a local short track a success: track management, the competitors, and the fans.
If one of the three levels of support fails, then the stability of a local short track is severely questioned. Without responsible staff managing the track, it may prevent competitors and fans from showing up. Short tracks are a part of the stepping stone towards making it to NASCAR, so they are vital in the development of tomorrow’s stars. Without fans flocking the grandstands, how are local short tracks supposed to earn revenue to further enhance their facilities? It is truly a team effort to keep a race track in operation.
NASCAR journalist Matt Weaver is known for his love of short track racing as he travels around the U.S. covering those events. He provides excellent coverage and insight of the biggest races at short tracks around the country throughout the year. We need more Matt Weaver’s to promote events at local short tracks. We need to have more members of the media who share Weaver’s passion for short track racing. Getting the word out is important so fans will want to attend future races. Nothing is more special than spending your weekend at the short track enjoying race cars roaring through each turn.
Local short tracks mean a lot to those who take pride in this form of motorsports. Memories are made and opportunities are born across the U.S. at short tracks. The upcoming closure of Irwindale Speedway is a massive blow to the San Gabriel Valley community, especially to those who began their career at the southern California short track. Irwindale Speedway will become a part of short track racing history when Jan. 31, 2018 arrives. The NASCAR official summarized his feelings about the track’s closure in two painful words.