Auto Club Speedway Shuts Down Dragstrip
Auto Club Dragway, a drag racing area located within Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, has been closed for good.
“After careful consideration on the best direction forward for Auto Club Speedway, the difficult decision has been made to permanently close Auto Club Dragway,” the speedway said in a Facebook post on Dec. 3.
“We thank all of the competitors, fans, and corporate partners who made so many wonderful memories at Auto Club Dragway through the years, and we look forward to making new ones as we embark on our 25th Anniversary Season at the 2-mile oval in 2022.”
Fans were hoping that the drag strip would be able to return, but in April of this year, the speedway posted a message which said: “Over the last year, we have had to make a number of tough decisions with respect to our business structure and operations due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, as part of this, the Auto Club Dragway will remain closed for 2021.”
Many Facebook commenters were extremely disappointed with the final decision to shut down the drag strip and said it would lead to more illegal street racing.
Brian Fischle commented: “This is a disappointment, to say the least … there was rarely a time where the drag strip was not packed! This also provided a venue for kids to race (no different from a baseball field). I’m very sad to see it go, and I’m disappointed in those that allowed it to happen!”
As Auto Club Speedway Shuts Down Dragstrip, Citizens Warn that Illegal Street Racing Will Increase
Gregg Suyenaga was blunt: “Worst decision ever. Because of the closing, street racing is going to be at an all-time high and everyone should be pointing at their bad decision.” “How is this the “best decision”? It should never be a decision at all,” commented Eric Kent. “If you aren’t into running it anymore, hand it over to someone who is. Trust me when I say there are thousands of people who would gladly step up and run the place and love it.”
Drag racing started at the speedway in 2001 and attracted many fans, but neighbors in the area complained about the noise, forcing the drag way to be closed in 2012. After a sound wall was built, the site reopened in 2014.
I think many people share one thought – if you buy a house next to a dragstrip or an airport and you complain about the noise, you’re the problem. Homebuyers have to sign documents acknowledging that these facilities are in the vicinity of these people’s homes, so it’s not like they were caught off guard.
This leaves Southern California with no real alternatives. Irwindale has only an 1/8th mile track – and most people don’t like that restriction. LACR in Palmdale is long gone. Terminal Island is also history. Bakersfield’s Famoso dragstrip is three hours away – on a good day. Barona Raceway, east of San Diego is about 150 miles from Los Angeles city center. Yes, the quarter-mile track at the Pomona Fairplex in Pomona, California, is still a functioning facility. But it is contractually only allowed to open so many days a year, as agreed with the cities of Pomona and La Verne.
So racing can only take place for a few days in February and November – again, because NIMBYs near the Pomona track, who bought their houses long after the track was built, suddenly find the occasional weekend race noise to be bothersome.
None of these options will entice street racers to “take it to the track.”