For many drivers at the drag strip in Irwindale, California, it was those tiny toy cars they had as kids that got them hooked on racing. Steve Osoinio says it was just something that has always been part of his life.
“I’ve been into cars since I was little,” he explains. “I always had a fantasy of going fast. My dad had muscle cars growing up.”
Osoinio offers to let me ride shotgun as he goes down the track for the first time. He’s nervous, he says, and so am I. The crew working on the track waves us forward, and Osoinio inches up to the starting line. All eyes are on the lights, known as the "Christmas tree.” The lights turn and Osoinio floors the pedal.
The whole thing takes just a matter of seconds, but Angelenos have been queuing up to burn rubber on this San Gabriel Valley strip since 2001.
Every Thursday, drivers line up to race, filling the air with the smell of burning rubber. But the track’s days are numbered. Los Angeles County’s last drag strip looks set to close after the Irwindale City Council recently approved plans to demolish the one-eighth mile track, along with an oval track used for NASCAR racing, to make way for a new shopping mall.