Irwindale Speedway, where a number of drivers from Santa Clarita won NASCAR short track racing championships, canceled its 2012 racing season, track management announced Monday.
Greg Pursley, a Canyon High graduate who won the NASCAR Whelen All American national championship while racing at Irwindale in 2006, said he was disappointed to hear the track canceled its season.
“I have been racing there since it opened in 1999,” said Pursley, who won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship in 2011. “For it to go away, it’s pretty sad. It’s discouraging taking NASCAR out of there. That doesn’t leave anything in the area.”
Connor Cantrell of Valencia won the NASCAR Super Trucks championship at Irwindale last season.
“We’ve been working on our truck to at least be ready in case of that slim chance it did continue,” Cantrell said.
Now that the racing schedule at Irwindale is cancelled, Cantrell said he is going to race race a Sprint car at Ventura Raceway instead.
“We want to keep the whole racing thing going,” Cantrell said. His first race at Ventura Raceway is March 3. But Irwindale Speedway holds a sentimental spot for Cantrell.
“It served as a learning ground for my stock car racing career,” Cantrell said. “It’s sad to see it go. I was there for six years. I have great memories.”
Canyon Country’s RJ Johnson won the NASCAR Super Late Model championship at the track last year. He won the NASCAR Late Model title in 2010 and the Super Trucks championship in 2009.
With the cancellation of the racing season at Irwindale, there are no NASCAR-sanctioned tracks in Los Angeles County.
Saugus Speedway used to host NASCAR races, including a Camping World Truck Series race in 1994, but the track closed soon after the Truck Series race.
Irwindale Speedway opened in 1999 and attracted drivers from as far away as Las Vegas and Arizona. Drivers from Santa Clarita flocked to the track.
Rod Johnson, father of RJ Johnson, won the first NASCAR Super Late Model championship at the track in 1999.