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Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead

The following article was posted on July 31st, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 21 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 21

The finish line draws closer

State grants push progress at Lompoc's Motorsports Park

BY KRISTINA SEWELL


FUTURE OF RACING
Central Coast off-road enthusiasts will no longer have to travel to practice their sport; the new complex will play host to drag and motor-cross races, as well as community events.
FILE PHOTO

Lompoc Valley Motorsports Park is now closer to completion with the allocation of some much-appreciated grants. On July 5, the project was given a push forward when approved for $1 million in grant money from the state’s Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division.

“The nearly million-dollar grant provides critical funding for development,” said Lompoc Economic Development Director and Assistant City Administrator Teresa Gallavan.

In addition, the adjoining Kids Moto Fun Park was approved for a $44,913 operational grant.

The Kids Moto Fun Park was conceptualized, planned, and built in 21 days as a way to fulfill a certain requirement when the city applied for the larger grant. The kids’ park, according to Gallavan and current plans for construction, will be incorporated into the new park scheduled to open in three years.

But the larger of the two grants is the $998,107, which is to be used for development of the park to be built near the Lompoc Airport. According to Gallavan, funding will cover the off-road portion of the project; the Motorsports Committee will need to raise the money to complete the drag strip portion.

For Lompoc, the next step in the process is finalizing a contract with the state; motorsports supporters will be going to the council again on Aug. 6 to present the contract and review the terms. The first phase of the project will also include an environmental impact report.

“An initial quote came in at approximately $200,000,” Gallavan said for the cost for the study. “While we don’t have an exact timeline for how long the study will take, it could be a year and a half.”

The environmental study will be a major factor in determining the timeline the project will follow from this point forward. Gallavan did add that the developmental portion of the grant is based on a three-year term. Given the length of the process to get the project off and running, she said it will take collaboration and commitment to see it through.

A state budget shortage put the grants into question until just recently, when Gov. Jerry Brown approved a new budget that increased money allotted to state parks.
Carl Creel, chairman of the Lompoc Motorsports Committee, said this park is an idea that started eight years ago and has been allowed to continue thanks to the persistence of the community and various changes in conceptualization.


ALL-IN
Progress of the Motorsports project has been easy with the support of local business and 10,000 citizens in the community who would like to see the Motorsports Park become a reality.
FILE PHOTO

“These grants add a lot to the project—more credibility, more partnership,” Creel said. “The project is now seen as viable by State Parks.”

Now two years down the road, Creel still has the same vision for off-road recreation in Lompoc.

“It’s a no-brainer: Motorsports on the Central Coast is an always-needed facility, and people need a place to ride,” he said.

Creel, a lifelong racing enthusiast, said people are riding in Santa Ynez and in the Santa Maria riverbed (which is illegal) and are traveling to Bakersfield or Los Angeles in order to ride. Creel also said the nearest venues for go-kart racing are down south and in Bakersfield; this project will put a track right on the Central Coast itself.

 The multi-use park that Creel has envisioned from day one will cater to the needs of any off-road junkie with its off-road dirt track, a drag strip, and a go-kart track.

“There are so many processes to go through and raising funds,” Creel said of the years-long development of the project. “These grants take some of the pressure off—this is huge.”

The project has seen fund-matching from the Chumash casino and donations from a car show, the Santa Barbara Foundation, and numerous other private donors.

Once the project moves forward with the environmental impact report, work can really begin on the drag strip and off-road portions. Creel ultimately hopes the park will become a venue for drag racing and quad races. The city has plans to market the park to swap meets, car shows, and other event promoters.

Creel, who estimated the project at $2 to $2.5 million—initially—still hopes to complete the project using mostly donated materials and no money from the city.

“I am very anxious to have another state park on the Central Coast,” he said.


Staff Writer Kristina Sewell tries to keep two wheels on the ground at all times. Contact her at ksewell@santamariasun.com.