IRWINDALE, Calif. – Longtime Irwindale Speedway and Irwindale Dragstrip Racing Director Mike Atkinson died unexpectedly at his residence on Feb. 11 at the age of 63.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of our friend Michael Atkinson, who has been into every inch of this facility since its opening in 1999,” said Irwindale Speedway President Tim Huddleston in a statement on the track website. “His impact on the Southern California racing community will be everlasting.”
Atkinson was a caring and outgoing people person who was respected for his honesty, fairness and work ethic. He controlled races by radio from his perch in the race control booth. His even-handed interpretation of the rules and settlement of disputes was remarkable.
His racing experience dated back to the 1960s as a driver and official. His father, Art Atkinson, operated two short tracks, Orange Show and Speedway 605.
Atkinson’s early experience combined with his natural charm, friendliness, technical knowledge and work ethic enabled him to lead Irwindale’s oval track and dragstrip as a senior manager for two decades.
He is survived by daughters Sarah and Jannie, son-in-law Mike Hancock and granddaughter Remi.