Not the way he wanted to start the season

Top Alcohol Dragster racer Mike Austin from Medford, Oregon, went for a wild ride at Pomona while racing Jim Whiteley in the first round of eliminations.

Rain cut short the competition on Sunday and continued to fall through early Monday, but the sportsman classes were expected to run if the track was dried. We’ll have all the sportsman results and photos tomorrow. See the pro results in our Race coverage. (Mark McLaughlin photos) [2/13/2012]

Irwindale suddenly closes circle track and drag strip

Both the NASCAR short track and the eighth-mile drag strip at Irwindale, Calif., that opened in 1999, appear to be closed.

An article in the Los Angeles Daily News reports that on Saturday, workers were dismantling the pit "spotters" grandstand, which is adjacent to the first turn. They were also taking apart storage areas and removing files from the Administration and Ticket office building. The large billboard bordering the San Gabriel Valley River Freeway was not lit up for the first time in its history, barring power outages, and the track's website was taken off the Internet.

The track's eighth-mile dragstrip remained intact on Saturday, but according to a source, workers were given a final paycheck after last Thursday's regular street legal session.

As of today (Feb. 13), there is still a driving school on the property and 2012 bookings for a monster truck show and drifting events later in the year.  Irwindale Speedway is considered the birthplace of automotive drifting in the US and the half-mile track is known as the "House of Drift." They have hosted Formula D since 2003, when the series began. The racetrack is also a popular location for shooting TV commercials.

Rumors going around have NASCAR Champion driver and race promoter Tony Stewart taking over the existing lease with plans to bring back regular sprint car and midget races to SoCal along with a more varied program for a Saturday night show. According to another source, Lucas Oil Company owner Forrest Lucas has already turned down an offer to take over the speedway. 

A statement from track management has just been released announcing that the 2012 racing season has been cancelled. (Darr Hawthorne photo) [2/13/2012]