In a state where drag racing was born due in part to dry lakes racing and the regions fervent support and love of the automobile, there seemed to be a quarter-mile drag strip in every corner of California. Starting with the innocuous Goleta, there may have been nearly 100 drag strip facilities dotted throughout the state from Fremont to Fontana and Saugus to Santa Ana (pictured).
Population up, drag racing down
However, with the onslaught of population and the crush of urban development – along with noise activists – tracks disappeared. Everywhere you looked, there were abandoned strips that sometimes sat vacant for decades afterwards. Famed tracks like Orange County eventually became a plot of commercial highrises while Irwindale turned into a brewery and Lions, well, sadly it’s just a storage yard.
In a century of growth, the greater Los Angeles area in Southern California went from roughly 200,000 to 20 million (source US Census). At the advent of the Roaring 20s, the state as a whole grew from about 4 million to almost 40 million. Yet today, we have literally a handful of quarter-mile drag strips to pursue the thrill of drag racing. That’s dangerous for our streets where especially the young head out to street race illegally.
What’s needed is to build in an area where urban sprawl doesn’t have an effect on a potential racing facility. Also, would it be nice if it was centrally located so both the southern and northern folks can meet without having to drive half a day. That can happen right here on the Central Coast.
National forests like Los Padres take up much of the land from Santa Barbara to Monterey plus with vineyards helping to insulate itself from population growth, much of the towns of the Central Coast will likely never see any population explosions. Such are these reasons and more that many of us live near or on the coast of Central California.
The Santa Ynez Valley in inland Santa Barbara County is one of many excellent locations with idyllic small towns geared towards visitors for the vineyards that could also entertain racers and their fans. Just north is Santa Maria with farms and wide open spaces, yet has many hotels due to being the biggest city on the Central Coast. In San Luis Obispo County, there are several locations though don’t expect anything in the city of San Luis Obispo – it’s loaded with small-minded no-growth activists who would squash any idea of a race track. However, in what is called the open rolling hills of ‘North County’, from Atascadero to Paso Robles, there are many potential locations for drag strips.
The idea of bringing safety to the Central Coast by keeping illegal street racers off our back roads should be met with open arms. Additionally, the income from having one of the only quarter-mile strips in California would be welcomed during this continuing elongated recessional period we’ve had the last several years.
Among the beauty that this region is known for, the centrally located towns of the Central Coast, sitting between two giant metropolitan areas, would be ideal for a quarter-mile drag racing facility. I got the ball rolling, now who’s ready to step up and make it happen?
Daryle W. Hier