Would you race at a 330ft drag strip?

At just 101 metres long, the new Street Legal Dragway in California is set to offer an entry-level facility to keep racing off the street


California has been losing its drag strips at an unfortunate rate, but there is at least one new track on the horizon – although it is a little shorter than you may be used to!

Street Legal Dragway is a 330ft, all-asphalt strip that is nearing completion in Perris, an old railway town of 78,000 souls, located 112km east-south-east of Los Angeles.

The new strip is positioned within the the Southern California Fairground, next door to the Perris Auto Speedway dirt track. The new strip is 600ft long, with a 330ft (101m) racing distance. The parking lot beyond the end of the track will be paved to provide a total 760ft shutdown area.

Why not make it an eighth-mile? “There is only enough room at the moment for 330ft of racing and the required safe shutdown,” says the driving force behind the project, Andy Marocco. “But we may be able to acquire more land in the future to extend to a safe 660 racing distance.”

The aim of the game for Marocco is not to build a state-of-the-art track for high-end racers, but rather an entry-level facility as an alternative to street racing. The track is sanctioned by the World Drag Racing Alliance (WRDA).

“Working with Andy on this endeavour is not just an acknowledgment of the illegal street racing problem – it’s an actionable solution,” says Jon O’Neal, representative of the WDRA. “Street Legal Dragway’s concept of a nationally recognised and sanctioned short-track format presents a scalable model that can be readily adopted across the country, making a significant impact in curbing illegal street racing. We believe this is a blueprint for others to follow.”

Marocco adds, “This idea has been years in the making, and we are thrilled to receive support from the State of California and the Riverside County Sheriff to bring our vision to life. WDRA’s recognition and sanctioning of our track are invaluable, providing guidance in running our race events successfully.”

All cars will be required to be registered and insured, have working mufflers and radial tyres, and be in otherwise safe working order. Drivers are required to have a valid driver’s licence, and, at least initially, trailers will not be allowed (in part due to space constraints).

Reaction on the track’s Facebook page is a mix of praise on one hand (some likening the initiative to the early ventures of Wally Parks) and a heap of questions on the other. Some lament the short distance, while others point out that the all-asphalt surface won’t suit high-horsepower cars.

While these are fair points in a perfect world, Marocco and his crew have to work within the budget and space they have to play with. And their intention is not to build an alternative to something like Famaso Dragway up in Bakersfield, but rather to provide folks with a safe and legal alternative to racing on the street.

The knock-on effect of getting more people involved with the sport is obvious, and the potential for using the drag strip and the fairground itself for a multi-faceted event is intriguing. Imagine if we had a similar strip at Exhibition Park in Canberra? It would add an extra dimension to Street Machine Summernats that has been missing since Canberra International Dragway shut down.

This kind of venue would also appeal to car clubs who want to add some driving events to their calendar of events, without the high-speed potential of a full quarter.

For more info, visit the Street Legal Dragway website.