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Sacramento Raceway Could be Shutting Down

SACRAMENTO -- It's been almost two months since news first broke that the family owned and operated Sacramento Raceway was up for sale. Rumors that the county has wanted to shut it down for noise and traffic issues have been around for decades. But since the announcement, many have voiced their objections about a place that is beloved by generations of racing families.

By the year 2020, or sooner of the raceway sells, the county plans on redeveloping the site. The owners are asking $11 million for the property. But for the generations of drivers who have raced there, you can't put a price on the "sentimental" value.

As word continues to spread about the inevitable closure, racers who give it their all when the green light drops are now doing the same to keep Sacramento Raceway open as long as they can.

"Basically, the property is worth a lot more money with houses on it. They're going to turn it into a Starbucks or Wal-Mart, and I'm not Ok with that," said racer Henry Roberson.

Roberson has been racing at the track for 16 years, and before that he came and helped his father race there. And like many who come out to compete, he wants the county to leave the raceway alone.

"For right now, all we can do is enjoy the track. Enjoy it while we have it. When 2020 comes and they say they won't sign the permits to operate as a racing facility anymore, we'll take other actions," Roberson said.

What he's talking about is a long-standing battle between the raceway and Sacramento County.

Twice before, the owners of the track have unsuccessfully tried to come into compliance based on rezoning by the county.

And according to the county, they have looked the other way for years as the facility continued to operate without all the proper permits.

"So there has been kind of a status quo over the past 10 or 12 years. I think though with the acknowledgment, obviously, that there were some proposed land-use changes in the general area," said County Supervisor Don Nottoli.

In 2013 the county looked at the Jackson Township Plan, which called for that 1,300 residential houses to be built on the 200 acre property.

So far that plan, or any other plan, has yet to be approved by the county.

And Nottoli said he would like the raceway to reach its 50 year anniversary in the year 2020 before any decisions going forward are made.

"The county has worked with the land owner, recognizing that there have been issues with compliance, but also recognize there has been a long-standing established use there," Nottoli said.

But when the track does finally take its final tap, both sides agree that the closest option for races will be Sonoma, and that will likely kick some of the drivers right back where it all started.

"That's where it started, going street light to street light. You take away a venue that allows and is designed to get them off the street, get them in a safe environment and have an ambulance on standby, have people sanctioned and keep spectators safe and you take that away. They're going to go right back to the streets," said racer Marc Friere.

Illegal street racing is a concern, especially if the Sacramento Raceway shuts down.

Both sides say they are looking into another area of the county to possibly build another raceway in the near future.