From its opening in 1999, Irwindale Speedway portended great things in HD.
Built on the quarry site where the Los Angeles Raiders wanted to build a 65,000-seat NFL stadium, the high-banked quarter mile track astride the 605 Freeway continued the momentum launched by the opening of spectacular California Speedway in 1997.
Future NASCAR Cup champions Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch raced on Irwindale’s high banks as parting shots enroute to NASCAR’s North Carolina-based national touring series.
Years later a teenage Connecticut wunderkind named Joey Logano introduced himself to the world by winning the prestigious Toyota All-Star Showdown, the Super Bowl of Saturday night short track racing.
“It’s the best short track racing,” declared NASCAR Hall of Famer and NASCAR on FOX personality Darrell Waltrip, “that I have ever seen.”
Not even a bankruptcy and covetous developer eyes foreseeing instead a regional shopping mall could shut down Irwindale Speedway.
But the coronavirus did.
One of the best fireworks shows in California was planned to mark the return of racing to the Irwindale Event Center on the Fourth of July.
The IEC eventually had to scrap the fireworks show under pressure from state and county leaders.
But they couldn’t stop the ENEOS 125 Presented by NAPA Auto Parts in the ARCA Menard’s West Series from being run.
And it produced enough fireworks to go around.
Jesse Love outbattled Trevor Huddleston on a restart with five laps remaining to claim his second ARCA Menard’s West Series victory.
The Menlo Park driver is 15.
“(Huddleston) drove it in there hard and kind of gave me one with 10 laps left,” said the Bill McAnally Racing driver. “So I kind of gave him one back to get the lead. I wasn’t sure it was gonna stick.
“But I’d rather be in the fence than finish second.”
Huddleston, the son of track president Tim Huddleston and a former three-time Irwindale track champion himself, finished second.
BMR driver Gracie Trotter of Denver, 18, finished third.
Love now leads the West Series in rookie points and overall points, heading to a combination weekend with IndyCar at Iowa Speedway on July 18.