I keep reading a ton of incorrect information online about the impending doom of Irwindale Speedway so I talked to several people close to the situation and built this story. The rumors of it all being a fancy ploy to sell tickets is flat out not true sadly and soon our beloved Irwindale Speedway will come crashing down from the Los Angeles County map. Here is a timeline of what happened and why the structure is still standing to this day. In fact, last season at Irwindale I helped produce an awesome tribute video to Irwindale Speedway with Mobil 1 that should be released shortly.
This first blip of news came to my attention in October 2013 just days after Michael Essa narrowly won his first championship in a BMW E46 chassis. A friend of mine sent me a link from CurbedLA indicating that a real estate group in Pasadena called Lindom Company purchased the 63.47-acre site of the San Gabriel Valley with plans to repurpose it. The company Nu-Way Industries sold the land to them who purchased it in 1966 and built the very racetrack that stands before us today.
The sun beginning to set on Irwindale Speedway probably started a little before this sale in 2013 so let me just rewind a little bit. In 2012, Irwindale Speedway was won back in US bankruptcy court from a company called Irwindale Speedway, LLC who had filed papers indicating it was more than $331,000 in debt. (Pasadena Star News) This is what would explain the lose of track sponsorship and the changing of the name to Irwindale Events Center. We first picked up the story in February 2012 when even Formula Drift didn’t know if the track would continue to operate per Jim Liaw (Formula Drift founder). The first hint of a property sale was mentioned in this exact Pasadena Star News story with “We would considered (selling) it, but we’re not actively pursing it right now,” Jay Garrett of Nu-Way Industries said.
Once the sale in October 2013 was complete we didn’t hear much about the track situation until March 23rd, 2015 when CEO Jim Cohan says Irwindale got a green light for a 2015 racing season that seemed to be in question until that announcement with the new landlords. The LA Times runs an article about the closure and creates panic among social media and shares some important nuggets of information. On March 25th, the city council voted to approve the rezone of the land for a stupid ridiculous 700,000 square foot strip mall. The plan was to break ground in 2016 on the stupid mall and be completed in 2017. This is documented in the LA Times piece.
I have no inside knowledge of how the $500,000,000 loan will work for the new stupid strip mall at Irwindale Speedway but I spoke extensively to an old friend who is in the business of $100 million+ commercial loans for a top five major bank. How these loans generally work is that the mall owners, Lindom Company, would need to get a certain percentage of commitments from stores to fill the place before a $500,000,000 loan would be issued for the property. That percentage could greatly vary on the existing relationship the company has with the bank or how much collateral they can put forth to leverage against the loan. I was told at a minimum he imagined they would need 20% of the units sold to break ground. This reality was clearly stated in the LA Times article as well.
“The existing lease at Irwindale Speedway will proceed until the owner secures a certain number of tenant shops for the outlet, Romo said, which means it’s possible the lease could be renewed for the 2016 season.” – LA Times
As the Formula Drift Irwindale Speedway event in 2015 approached the track had no 2016 lease agreement or permission to continue into the next racing season. This stirred the speculation that the track was coming to an end and for quite some time it seemed that was reality. The great news for race fans is that after the bank did its own evaluations on the deal and it has gotten cold feet about the $500,000,000 million dollar loan for one reason or the other. This permitted a 2016 race season to take place. Assuming the bank and Lindom Company sort out their collective issues the track still wouldn’t close right away at this point. I have been told by a source that the racing contract is on a rolling 12 month agreement at this point. So, if the mall moved forward today – the racing season would continue and be available for 365 days from today. This ensures the 2016 Formula Drift event will happen in October. That also means the fate for 2017 should be known by the time Irwindale rolls around this year.
So the sad reality is Irwindale Speedway will more than likely be closing down sooner than later for a stupid 700,000 square foot shopping mall. At a ridiculous cost of $500,000,000 I can only hope it goes bankrupt and we can get a new racetrack back by 2020 in LA county over the abandoned shopping mall land.