Santa Maria Sun / Sports Lead
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 31
Zooming right alongThe Lompoc Valley Motorsports Park committee looks to raise $30,000 for permit funding
BY JEREMY THOMAS
After two years, the Lompoc Valley Motorsports Park Committee is making great strides on its proposed racing complex, dashing headlong into the fundraising stages.
Committee members say the project—which includes an eighth-mile drag strip and tracks for motocross dirt bikes and go-karts—will be a “huge” addition for racing fans on the Central Coast, drawing hundreds of spectators for any given race.
“This is a community with a large number of motor sports fans that really don’t have anyplace to go,” said group president Carl Creel. “The circle track racers can go to Santa Maria to race, but beyond that if you want to race motorcycles or drag race, there’s no place close by.”
The total cost of the project could run in the millions, according to the committee. Fortunately, the idea is drawing wide support from local contractors and businesses that have pledged free labor and materials. R.L. Johnson Construction donated concrete rails for construction. Smitty’s Towing Service has hauled materials. Aceco Equipment Rentals, Sunbelt Rentals, and Cook Erectors have helped with loading and unloading.
“It’s going to be quite a bit cheaper than if we just had to pay it all out of pocket,” Creel said. “That was our plan to have the community step up and help build it, and it’s all coming true at this point.”
The Lompoc City Council gave unanimous preliminary approval to the project in June, with close to 100 racing enthusiasts and supporters turning out for the pivotal meeting. According to Lompoc Mayor John Linn, the project has become a popular topic of conversation among locals.
“Out of all the questions people ask me about when something’s happening, it’s 4-1 over everything else,” Linn said.
Linn is a longtime Motorsports Park proponent, spurred on by seeing the impact of illegal street racing during his towing company days. He believes the complex could draw as many as 500 to 1,000 spectators for bigger events.
“My main goal is giving the kids a place to go run and just hang out and talk, and do what kids do,” Linn said. “Then the mayor inside of me says it’s one hell of an economic development tool. It will bring a crowd every weekend, and four times a year it will bring a really big crowd.”
Almost all of the feedback from residents has been positive, Linn said, with a few scattered concerns over potential noise. Because the park lies on Lompoc Airport land, Linn explained, it falls under the airport’s noise plan and won’t be any noisier than regular air traffic.
“It doesn’t have that huge screaming sound like an NHRA quarter-mile strip has, where they’re doing 300 miles per hour,” he said. “You can’t do 300 on this one; it’s not long enough.
Linn said the city has had discussions with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and is assisting the Motorsports Park Committee through the environmental review process, which would take at least six to nine months. The project requires the approval of the FAA, the California Department of Fish and Game, and other agencies.
As plans move forward, the committee is looking to raise between $25,000 and $30,000 to fund initial permitting costs. So far, Creel said, they’ve brought in about $20,000 to go toward insurance, advertising, and promotion. To kick off efforts, committee members and volunteers held a successful car show in July at a local Albertsons, drawing more than 200 people and raising $3,500 for the project. The group received grants from the Santa Barbara Foundation and the Gas Company, and on Sept. 26, secured a matching grant from the Chumash Foundation. For every dollar raised up to $12,500, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians will match the amount.
“We’re proud we can support a project like the Lompoc Valley Motorsports Park,” tribal chairman Vincent Armenta said in an e-mail to the Sun. “It not only benefits the many fans of motorsports, but it is also a tremendous benefit to the community.”
The International Hot Rod Association’s director of track development, Phil Gingerich, presented the project to city officials. Designs for the complex include hillside bleachers and a pit area. Once completed, the drag strip will be host to races every weekend, as well as other various community events. Creel expects to draw anywhere from 200 to 500 spectators for regular races, which he considers a “good crowd.”
Creel hopes to begin construction on the complex within the next year, beginning with the dirt track. In the meantime, the committee will be working with the Santa Maria Speedway—which is currently undergoing a management change—on promotion, as well as finalize a memorandum of understanding with city staff regarding the park’s operation.
“We’re just moving forward as quickly as we can,” Creel said. “It’s taken us two years to get to this point, but we have city approval, we have money in the bank and materials stored ... . We’ve come a long way.”
Staff Writer Jeremy Thomas is money in the bank. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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