In what is simply an unfortunate signs of the times, the 2014-15 offseason has been a tough one for several race tracks around the country — and the news doesn’t seem to be getting much better with race season upon us. There is, however a glimmer of hope for Texas drag racers, who have seen one of their previously ill-fated facilities re-open for business this spring.
The most high-profile of cases this winter has involved the Heartland Park Topeka in Kansas, the site of at least one NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series event since 1989. The story centers around the city of Topeka’s attempt to purchase the track and land and keep it operational while searching for a lessee or outright buyer. Such a move has been met with great resistance from the tax-paying public, and to date, the plan is still stalemated, leaving the tracks’ future in jeopardy.
With a tentative plan in place to run the track as normal, Heartland Park owner Ray Irwin confirmed their national event date with the NHRA and released a full season schedule; but even that now is in limbo, as Irwin announced late last week that with insurance policies and other factors and the uncertainty of the track moving forward, all 2015 events with the exception of the NHRA Kansas Nationals have been cancelled. With the Kansas Nationals less than two months away, however, and no movement between the City Council of Topeka and the citizens of Topeka, one has to wonder whether that event will go on as planned.
Meanwhile, in Southern California, the plan to demolish the Irwindale Speedway that we reported on just a couple of weeks ago have sadly received the green light, as the City Council voted unanimously to allow the closure and demolition of the drag strip and oval track. With that death-sentence vote, the last drag strip in operation in Los Angeles County appears to have a few months to perhaps a year left before the wrecking ball reduces it to nothing to make way for a 700,000 square foot mall that city officials tout will produce 5,000 jobs and bring in $2.6 million in annual tax revenue to the city and county.
Irwindale Event Center President Jim Cohan has confirmed that the track will continue to conduct drag racing, oval track, and drift events through the 2015 season.
In Texas, the Redline Raceway in Caddo Mills, which was closed down late last year and reportedly was slated for commercial development, got a reprieve and is now set to re-open in late April or early May, much to the delight of racers in the region, who have seen more than their share of tracks close in the last couple of seasons. Track operators are even making improvements to the facility, adding a new concrete barrier between the starting line, renovating the restrooms, and grinding the racing surface.