Fontana’s Auto Club Dragway is Threatened Over Noise Concerns

by Andrew Wolf

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.