Update: Auto Club Dragway Revises 2011 Schedule

Editor’s note: Following is the official Auto Club Dragway press release relating to the issue of noise closures

SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY, Calif. (June 1, 2011) – Auto Club Dragway will continue to run events such as the popular Street Legals, PSCA, MNCA/MNRA [sic] and Jr. Drags for the remainder of the 2011 season.  However, events such as the NHRA National Open and NHRA Unleashed have been cancelled for 2011.  The revised schedule, which includes additional Street Legal events, is intended to ensure compliance with the current maximum sound levels for events at Auto Club Dragway.

In November of 2010, San Bernardino County approved a revision to the sound standards that apply to Auto Club Dragway, setting a new higher maximum sound level for events at Auto Club Dragway.  The revised standard also allows a certain number of events to exceed that limit when the Auto Club Dragway constructs a sound wall adjacent to the strip.  Construction of the wall has been delayed pending a November 7, 2011 hearing challenge to the revised standard, resulting in the 2011 schedule modifications.

“Auto Club Dragway has become synonymous with great NHRA events in Southern California,” said General Manager Mark Dawson.  “While the changes to the 2011 schedule are disappointing, we’re confident these modifications will result in the long-term viability of Auto Club Dragway and preserve drag racing in Southern California.”

The challenge to the revised standard will have no impact on the 2011 Auto Club Speedway schedule.

Remaining 2011 Auto Club Dragway schedule

As scheduled: Junior Divisional – load-in June 17, race 18-19; Division 7 Junior Divisional Finals – load-in Sept. 23, race 24-25; Twilight Street Legal races July 30, Sept 30 and Daytime Street Legal races Oct 29, Nov 19 and Dec 3.

Additional events: Daytime Street Legal – June 25; Twilight Street Legal July 16; Twilight Street Legal August 13; Daytime Street Legal September 17; Daytime Street Legal October 15.

Modified events: PSCA – July 1-3, September 9-11 and November 4-6; NMCA/NMRA – July 8-10
For more information on Auto Club Dragway events and an updated 2011 schedule, visit www.autoclubspeedway.com/dragway.

The original news article follows. – Ed

In most areas of the country, the closure of a local drag racing establishment is a crushing blow to the racing community, but for Southern California area racers and race fans, it’s become a situation they’ve developed an immunity to over the decades. And thus, the sudden rumors circling out of Auto Club Dragway in Fontana following Monday’s LA Invasion test and tune wasn’t much of a shock to anyone, but it’s certainly outraged the locals who now have virtually nowhere else to race.

The rumors are simple – the long-standing noise pressures on the facility that have resulted in numerous sound violations and lawsuits has finally spoiled over in a situation where the track has no choice but to take action to eliminate the louder race  cars. There has been activity in the courts and with city planning to actually raise the sound limits that are acceptable coming out of the race track. However, there has been no raised limits, and the rumors are that some of the louder race cars are producing dB levels that are outside of acceptable levels. There has been talk of raising a sound wall (20 feet or 30 feet, depending on who you talk to) – but there has been no construction activity as of yet.

As has been the case for virtually every drag strip ever constructed in the state, the cause of the Auto Club Dragway’s troubles is cited over noise and health concerns from nearby residents and businesses. At this point in time the rumors of cancelled events say the situation is considered to be temporary while a resolution between the track, the neighboring community, and the local government can be worked out, but nonetheless, it’s another challenge for drag racing in the state where it all began more than 60 years ago.

The Auto Club Dragway was constructed in 2001 in the parking lot on the north side of the Auto Club Speedway – formerly the California Speedway- which hosts NASCAR and sports car events. In those 10 years, the facility has been the go-to source for legal drag racing in the SoCal area  and has drawn such events as the JEG’S Pacific SPORTSNationals, the PSCA, NHRA Unleashed, NHRA Hot Rod Heritage Series, Division 7 ET Finals, and the NMCA and NMRA.

Considering California’s thumbs-down stance on legal, closed course drag racing over the last few decades, you almost get the feeling that they encourage illegal street racing. But whether they condone it or not, with the sudden rumors about the only quarter-mile track remaining in the area cutting out a number of events, they’re about to get a lot more of it on their public roads.