Great news from the short track circuit, as California’s Irwindale Speedway is set to host lower-level NASCAR racing once again starting tomorrow night.
The half-mile oval in suburban Los Angeles had been known as a home for some of NASCAR’s minor-league categories such as the Whelen All-American Series (pictured) and K&N Pro Series West. It had also garnered national attention as host to the now-defunct Toyota All-Star Showdown, which served as an all-star race of sorts for the top drivers throughout all of NASCAR’s various regional series.
But its previous owner was forced to file for bankruptcy in February of 2012. Luckily for race fans in the Southern California region, a new operating group was eventually found for the track.
Saturday’s event marks the first of 14 nights this season that will feature NASCAR “Home Tracks” series at Irwindale, whose general manager is naturally thrilled about Opening Night.
“There’s a renewed attitude, a great sense of adventure — drivers, crews and fans all telling us that they can’t wait for this coming Saturday night,” Bob Klein said in a track statement. “We’re very excited to be back in the stock car racing business. Everyone on our staff is ready to get back to what Irwindale Speedway was built to do, and that’s put on a short track racing show that’s second to none.”
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.