There’s A New Dragstrip In Southern California Where Street Cars Can Legally Race

Image: Street Legal Dragway
Image: Street Legal Dragway

While Southern California officials are eager to solve the dangerous and deadly problem of street racing, sideshows, and other car-based tomfoolery, solutions have not been easy to come by. One man in Perris, California, thinks he has the answer; a legal drag strip for street cars.

Called the Street Legal Dragway, and it claims to be the first 330-foot long dragstrip built specifically for racing street cars. The spot is located at the Perris fairgrounds next to Lake Perris and is the brainchild of owner and manager Andy Marocco.

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Finding an actual spot to build the strip and a city to approve it was challenging at first. There were more than a few setbacks.

Previous attempts to build a dragway failed. In one case, he said, he had approval to build one in Banning, but after years of delays, revoking of the approval by Banning City Council in 2011, and a lawsuit, the plan was abandoned, and Marocco said life went on.

Then, during the coronavirus pandemic, Banning officials invited Marocco back to help run races at the Banning Municipal Airport.

“We had like 250 cars show up at each race,” Marocco said, and some participants came from other states including Arizona and Nevada.

The races ended when the Federal Aviation Administration got wind of them.

Then a man named Nick Bruno, who sits on the board in charge of the Southern California Fair suggested the city of Perris and its fairgrounds. Not long after, construction started on the dragstip.

From the looks of the strip’s site, everyone really is welcome.

Welcome to STREET LEGAL DRAGWAY the nation’s first purpose built (1/16 mile) 330’ foot drag strip. Our track is located at the Southern California Fair Grounds, in the City of Perris. Our track, unlike other drag strips, caters specifically to “street legal” cars by definition. ​Our goal is to stop people from illegally racing on the public highways and streets, where they risk killing themself and taking innocent lives.

What’s considered a “Street Legal” car? One that you drive everyday on public roads. Of course, sometimes these types of cars can be extreme with well over 1,000 horsepower. We require that all racers have a Valid Driver’s License and that their car be registered in their name, insured, run D.O.T. Tires and have “working” mufflers.

The track even has support from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. ​“There has always been something about boys and girls and their cars. “When you have a space to exercise that passion, you get what we have now,” the department said in a statement.

Street racing and street racing adjacent events have been on the rise in Southern California. Data from the California Highway Patrol shows since 2015, things like street races and takeovers have “quadrupled” across the state. Sadly 264 crashes over that eight period have resulted in 31 deaths. Residents and officials have been struggling with how to crack down on the racing. Things like sting operations that result in tows and arrests can only do so much. Some have called for a venue were people can race legally.

Ultimately, Marocco hopes the track draws people away from the streets where it’s safer. The track is currently open every other Friday through the end of the year.

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