Save Our Tracks

Oct 2, 2012

While I strongly doubt the prophecies that suggest that that the end of the world is coming in December of 2012, I do think this year has shown signs of a coming motorsports apocalypse.

It looks like we have hit the rev limiter, and the face of amateur motorsports will be forever changed. There are many factors contributing to this pole shift, but the result is the same and the outcome could be detrimental to the lives of automotive enthusiasts everywhere.

As car people, we all have our own motivations that fuel our passion for these lumps of plastic and steel that have a tendency to absorb more of our time than they should. We name them, we talk to them, we wipe them clean with the best towels in the house.

They are part of our family in many cases. Some like to build them to be historically accurate and polish them until the paint is nearly gone. Some like to customize them in ways that make the original platform nearly unrecognizable.

Then there are some of us who build them to be driven, and driven hard. But, as responsible adults, we know better than to race on public streets (most of the time), and when we want to really go push our cars to the limit, we go to the track or an organized event to truly enjoy what we have built. Safely.

Harder to Find

For many of us, hitting our local track on the weekend doesn’t really seem that unusual or out of the ordinary. However, in certain areas of the country, a safe venue to race is becoming harder and harder to find.

Let’s take the drag strip at Fontana Speedway as an example. Auto Club Dragway, as it is officially called, has been plagued with numerous noise violations, which have led to a recent hiatus. Originally, the reports were that the track would have to close permanently. However, being that it was a noise issue and not a safety issue, there is a proposed remedy.

The plan is to suspend racing until a proper noise barrier can be erected that will appease local residents. The threat of a permanent track closure worried many racers, because this is one of the few remaining quarter-mile drag strips in southern California.

On the other side of the country, the car community in Atlanta has been dealing with a ban on amateur drifting, at organized events no less.

This isn’t just a few guys having risky fun in a dark parking lot-we’re talking about planned track layouts, pre-approved parking lot rentals at Turner Field, and K-rail concrete barriers positioned to make a safe haven for organized drifting.

This is as close to an official event as you can get, except you don’t have to pay admission to watch. The real kicker though, is that this proposed ban on drifting is exactly that-a ban on drifting only, because autocross events and other dealership-sponsored test drive events weren’t included in this legal action.

This had the drifting enthusiasts in the ATL up in arms, and rightfully so. The race organizers often invest their own time and effort to coordinate these events with little or no return, other than making sure that there is a place that they can safely enjoy their motorsport of choice.

Time to Defend

Personally, I don’t get into all the forms of amateur and professional motorsports out there. However, I love that we live in a country where horsepower is appreciated and drivers are willing to be put to the test for all of us to watch. And especially at organized events where there are safety systems in place, as opposed to racing amongst the general public on open roads.

As the threat of the end of the world closes in, we need to see these warning signs and change our ways to save our own future. Just like many of the great end-of-the-world storylines, we have the ability and power to change our fate by rallying together and stepping up to defend against a common enemy: the loss of safe racing venues.

Don’t let our racing world end!