"Auto Club Speedway may resume operations at the Auto Club Dragway if it first complies with a series of requirements intended to mitigate the environmental impacts to the surrounding community, including construction of a soundwall." That announcement comes from the facilities website and could not be better news for drag racers throughout Southern California.
Auto Club Dragway was the only regular-use quarter-mile drag strip in Southern California but closed this past February. This was after a community group went to court and successfully stopped drag racing operations which forced them to shut its doors. The drag strip is on the grounds of Auto Club Speedway where NASCAR and IndyCar race once a year at the big two-mile oval in Fontana, California.
Nowhere to go except the street
Drag racing has been decimated in the Greater L.A. area over the years and when it comes to quarter-mile facilities, other than Pomona which runs just two national events a year, Fontana was the only strip supplying regular drag racing for a region populated by roughly 25 million residents. Without Fontana, street racing goes up and Sportsman racing is out of business.
It's still not determined when the sound surpressing wall will be built and completed. Oddly enough, the wall is planned to be built between the drag strip and sets of railroad tracks, meaning the trains will be on the home side of the wall.
Questions remain such as who will operate the track since the previous employees were let go. Will a new Environmental Impact Report have to be issued? The last one was found to be inadequate which led eventually to the track's demise in the first place. Also, there already is a sound wall of sorts. Will it be a part of the new wall or be replaced?
And maybe the biggest question is: Will the France family actually spend the approximately $1 million it will take to build the new sound wall? The France family, through International Speedway Corporation (ISC), owns the entire Auto Club Speedway operation.
So with cautious optimism, drag racing fans in Southern California can have hope. When this all transpires is up for discussion but it looks like in time, Fontana will once again offer everyday quarter-mile racers a place to compete. Stay tuned.
Sources - Auto Club Dragway
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.