- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

IRWINDALE, Calif. (AP) - The sights and sounds of high-performance cars racing around an oval track could soon be replaced by those of minivans searching for parking spaces after the City Council approved plans to demolish the popular Irwindale Speedway and replace it with an outlet mall.

Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to allow developers to construct the 700,000-square foot mall on the site of the raceway 20 miles east of Los Angeles.

It will bring an end to a popular motor-sports stadium that has played host to NASCAR and National Hot Rod Association races since 1999.

Irwindale officials say that in exchange it will bring more jobs and revenue to the Los Angeles suburb of 1,400 people whose most famous business is likely popular Sriracha maker Huy Fong Foods.

It looked for a time last year that Irwindale might lose that business when residents’ complaints of strong odors emitted during chili-grinding season led the city to threaten to shut it down. The city and the sauce maker dropped competing lawsuits, and operations continued, after Gov. Jerry Brown urged all sides to compromise.

Irwindale Speedway is facing the same fate that brought an end to several other popular Southern California race tracks - encroaching population.

Riverside International Raceway closed in 1989 and has been replaced by townhomes and a shopping mall. Lions Drag Strip in Wilmington, which attracted some of the sport’s most famous Top Fuel dragsters, closed in 1972, crowded out by a home development and an expansion of the Los Angeles Harbor.

Irwindale Event Center President Jim Cohan said his track will remain open through the 2015 season, which ends in December. “We will continue to operate this top-notch NASCAR oval track and NHRA drag racing facility for as long as we are able to do so,” he said in a statement.

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