It took nine months in 2001 for the drag strip at Auto Club Speedway to go from a proposal to San Bernardino County to reality. It’ll be roughly the same amount of time before Auto Club Dragway resumes competition.
Due to opposition from a community group who took their complaints to court, the only quarter-mile drag strip south of Bakersfield’s Auto Club Famoso Drag Strip has been shut down since early 2012. In announcing the action before the March 3 Street League event, a track statement noted the Superior Court action.
“The suspension results from a successful challenge of a San Bernardino County sound standard by a group of concerned residents. San Bernardino County officials had approved an amendment to the county sound standard in 2010 to accommodate louder sound arising from races at the dragway. The Superior Court found that the underlying environmental impact report, which the county relied on to approve the sound standard amendment, was not sufficient. We are currently reviewing the court ruling and evaluating our options moving forward.”
It’s taken some time, but the speedway will comply. Mainly, the construction of a sound wall will aid in reducing the noise complaints, at an estimated cost of $1.25 million.
“We are very excited that Auto Club Dragway in Fontana is reopening as an NHRA member track in 2014, providing a place to race for local enthusiasts and helping to fulfill NHRA’s and Auto Club’s mission of keeping racing on the track and off the street,” read a NHRA statement this week. “We owe a huge thank you to Gillian Zucker and the team at International Speedway Corporation for believing in NHRA and making the significant investment necessary to re-open the facility.
“Auto Club, SEMA, K&N Engineering, the racing community and government officials were also instrumental in making this happen. NHRA enthusiasts in Southern California have few places to race.
“This track will change that, offering the NHRA Street Legal Drags presented by AAA, the Summit NHRA Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Summit Jr. Drag Racing League.”
It’s expected that the sound wall—24-foot high and 1,800 feet in length, wrapping around the starting line and running the length of the track—will also allow the track to host NHRA divisional meets and feature the return of the Jegs Western SportsNationals.
SoCal drag racing fans are anxious to see the track back on-line.
“The local racing community is excited that drag racing will return to Fontana,” said Jim Willoughby, an Ontario resident who was among the leaders of a movement to keep the venue open. “This will be a huge benefit to the local economy as well as help law enforcement cut down on illegal street racing.
“We look forward to supporting Auto Club Speedway’s endeavor.”