Wednesday, September 21, 2011
DeFazio: Irwindale Will Survive For Another Year
Toyota Speedway at Irwindale is recognized as one of the premier short track facilities in the country, with two paved oval tracks of ½ and 1/3-mile in length. Irwindale was one of the first tracks to be constructed with variable-degree banking, producing constant, side-by-side competition, and seats more than 6,000 fans. There has been speculation that declining ticket sales have impacted revenue to the point where lease payments for the land on which the speedway is built now consume a majority of the its operating capital. A lucrative naming rights contract with Toyota also expires at the end of this season, eliminating another revenue source.
Contacted today, DeFazio said he believes the track is on firm financial ground for 2012. “Stories like this pop up every year,” he said. “This probably stems from the announcement we made recently about the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown not returning next season. People take something like that and run with it.” DeFazio said attendance at the track’s 2011 race events has been varied. “We started out down, but had a pretty good summer,” he said. “We actually saw some significant gains in some of our summer shows, and out annual K&N Pro Series West crowd was better than the year before. But as football starts and other things divert people’s attention, we’ve begun to see declines in attendance again.”
The speedway’s location -- adjacent to the 605 Freeway less than 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles – makes it a prime target for real estate developers. But DeFazio said he holds an ironclad, long-term lease on the speedway property. “We have a 52-year lease, and this is year 13,” he said. “There are no worries there. There is nothing definitive I can tell you about (the long term future of the track), but we are looking at a couple of different options for next year. As far as I know, we’re in good shape for 2012. And I’m pretty close to the situation.”