KENNEDY: New California Tracks
LOS ANGELES — October brought news about the birth or revival of three auto racing tracks in California. Two of the tracks are paved and one dirt.
The three sites are located in northern, central and southern California. That is welcome news for racing competitors and fans alike throughout the Golden State. Poor economic conditions since 2008 have reduced the number of racing venues in California. Now promoters are stepping forward to put racers back on the track.
KERN COUNTY RACEWAY
The Bakersfield (Calif.) daily newspaper ran a story with photos about work ongoing at the banked, paved half-mile and quarter-mile inner track being overseen by local racer James Vernon. The 480-acre site was never completed because of the economic recession that started in 2008.
The track development, involving Mesa Marin Raceway builder/owner Marion Collins and others, was foreclosed upon in 2010. The track is located alongside heavily-traveled Interstate 5 at Enos Lane. Current work includes repaving the original asphalt track with two additional layers of asphalt, underground work and miles of wiring for lighting, adding drainage, clearing tumbleweeds and brush from the site that has been dormant for years, planting trees and landscaping the grounds.
Steel framework for a four-story building is rising behind the existing main grandstand. It will house luxury suites, race control, press box and office space. Another 8,000-square-foot building (not in the original track plans) will house shops, technical inspection and restrooms.
Main racing attractions will be late model stock cars on the half-mile, plus Legend Cars and Bandoleros on the quarter mile. Other classes will see action as well. A spring 2013 opening is the goal. A recent report has Lester Boyer tabbed to be the racing director. He held that job at both Mesa Marin and Irwindale.
An October press release stated that professional stock car racing will return to the paved Irwindale Speedway in March 2013. The asphalt half and third-mile banked tracks will resume professional, sanctioned racing after not hosting oval racing since Nov. 26, 2011.
The 20-acre facility will be operated under the name Irwindale Event Center. Racing on the ovals will not occur every week necessarily. Bi-weekly or spot races will rebuild the competitor and fan base gradually.
Concerts, trade shows, police high-speed driver training, car testing and driver training, movie, television and commercial shoots are other uses planned for the complex, which opened March 27, 1999. The oval track has outstanding Musco lighting, 6,500 grandstand seats, luxury skybox suites on the third floor overlooking the front straight and with access by two elevators.
Irwindale racers have had to travel to tracks in Madera (near Fresno) and Las Vegas to race infrequently this year, if at all.
The original track operator, Irwindale Speedway LLC, had a long-term lease and ran the track from 1999 through the 2011 season. It filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy (dissolution of business) on Feb. 13, 2012. Nu-Way Industries, Inc., of nearby Arcadia, owns the 20 acres property. The two Nu-Way principals are Jim Mnoian, president, and Jay Garrett. Mnoian is a distant relative of the fellow Armenian Agajanian family of late racing promoter J. C. Agajanian. Mnoian is on record saying he wanted racing to continue at Irwindale Speedway.
Jim Cohan, of LA Racing Experience (racing cars driving school) — Team 211 Entertainment — has operated his school on the track oval uninterrupted during 2012 under a separate contract with Nu-Way. Cohan and Irwindale track operations manager Bob Klein have run the Irwindale drag strip (an eighth-mile strip on the southeast portion of the property) successfully during 2012. On Oct. 13 an outside promoter conducted the usual annual D-1 (drifting competition) at the oval track. The event attracted a record crowd of 12,000 drifting fans according to the local daily newspaper.
STOCKTON 99 DIRT TRACK
The Sacramento Bee daily newspaper reported on Oct. 26, 2012 that Tony Noceti, has built a new three-eighths mile dirt track in the infield of the one-mile horse racing track at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in Stockton.
The covered grandstand at the fairgrounds seats at least 9,000. Restrooms and concession stands are ample for fairgrounds capacity crowds. Since 1999 Noceti has been the lessee/racing promoter of the longtime Stockton 99 Speedway quarter-mile paved track in Stockton, just west of Highway 99.
The new dirt track does not have lighting for night racing so daytime races will be the fare. That will require excellent track preparation for competitive racing.
Daylight racing only will avoid conflicts with other racing tracks in the vicinity that conduct only night races. According to the story, Noceti plans to run eight to ten races after April. He reportedly made inquiries with the sanctioning body for World of Outlaws sprint car racing at his new dirt track in 2013.