Irwindale group files for bankruptcy

Updated: February 14, 2012, 10:05 PM ET
By Tim Haddock | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com

Irwindale Speedway LLC, the management group that runs the track, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on Monday, the same day track management canceled the 2012 racing season.

In the paperwork filed at the United States Bankruptcy Court, Central District, it shows that Irwindale Speedway LLC owes creditors $331,773.11. The largest amount is $150,000 owed on a personal-injury claim.

Irwindale Speedway LLC owes Nu-Way Industries Inc., the company that owns the property where the track and offices are built, $55,000 in rent.

Irwindale Speedway LLC has two more outstanding personal injury claims with unknown values. There is also a debt of $8,093.51 owed to the city of Irwindale Police Department, $16,379.58 owed to the Golden State Water Company and $1,437.50 owed to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune for advertising.

Irwindale Speedway vice president and general manager Bob DeFazio did not return a phone message.

There are four buildings on the Irwindale Speedway property owned by Nu-Way Industries valued at an estimated $31 million, according to documents obtained from the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector.

A phone message left with Nu-Way Industries in Arcadia was not returned.

Mike Atkinson, the chief steward at Irwindale Speedway, said news of the bankruptcy was a surprise.

"I didn't know there was a bankruptcy until yesterday," Atkinson said in a phone interview on Tuesday. "I wasn't informed of anything. Things are up in the air, but I'm trying to stay positive thinking."

Atkinson added that the owners of the property want to continue racing at Irwindale Speedway.

"I hear there's an interest on their part," Atkinson said. "I was told we were going to be racing."

The promoters of one of the races held annually at the track since 1999, the United State Auto Club Turkey Night Grand Prix, are looking for a new venue. The Agajanian family, which has promoted the USAC Turkey Night at tracks around Southern California for decades, does not expect Irwindale Speedway to host this year's event. The races were scheduled for Nov. 22.

"It's unlikely you're going to see any racing at Irwindale," USAC Western director of operations Tommy Hunt said.

The Formula Drift Series also had a date scheduled at Irwindale Speedway in October. According to John Pangilinan, the media director with the series, Irwindale Speedway has not contacted them about honoring the race date.

Track management released a brief statement Monday about canceling the race schedule at the track for 2012. The management team offered no reason or explanation for the decision to cancel the season and the members of the management staff, including DeFazio, did not answer any questions.

The track has been affected by poor attendance, small car counts and dwindling sponsorship. Toyota, who bought the naming rights to the track in 2008, decided not to continue as the title sponsor at the end of the 2011 season.

The NASCAR All-Star Showdown, a nationally televised event pitting the top drivers and teams from the K&N Pro Series East and West, was canceled in August.

Irwindale Speedway was not on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West schedule when it was released in December. Irwindale Speedway hosted at least one West Series race since the track opened in 1999.

"Irwindale Speedway is a great facility that brought some tremendous racing to fans in Southern California," George Silberman, NASCAR vice president of regional and touring said on Monday. "Today's news is an obvious disappointment. There are a lot factors out of our control in a track having to make a decision like this. We wish the track the best of luck and hope racing returns in the near future."

All signs pointed to trouble at Irwindale Speedway when the grandstands seats in the pit area were torn down and the offices were cleaned out on Saturday.

"Unfortunately that went down," Atkinson said. "It's over with and we have to look forward. Management makes or breaks a company. Something went wrong."

Tim Haddock is a regular contributor to ESPNLosAngeles.com.

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