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Tuesday, January 22 , 2019, 1:43 am | Fair 51º


Captain’s Log: Having No Drag Strip Is a Drag

Let's give enthusiasts a safe, regulated outlet to engage in their sport

This town has no drag strip. That’s not to say that drag racing doesn’t happen. In fact, races are frequent occurrences. An attempt to regulate them out of existence is foolish. Mostly it gives intolerant people an opportunity to base complaints on regulations.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

Our problem is that drag racing is done with extreme danger and with risk of legal trouble because we haven’t given the multitude of enthusiasts a safe and legal way to engage in their sport.

Across the country, it is a well-recognized sport, with plenty of organization to support it and regulations to keep people as safe as is possible.

I have heard stories that organized drag racing actually started in Goleta during the 1940s. Why has the town turned its back on this sport? Is it because some folks don’t want to be bothered by the sound of an engine and the squeal of racing tires, even though they happen at scheduled times and serve the recreational and business needs of many people?

A drag strip would be a place where diverse social groups can learn to interact and compete, in a regulated environment. It would be a place where people can learn about mechanics, about people and about competitive spirit.

A drag strip would be great for local business. Existing businesses would get a boost, and opportunities would open up for new businesses. Sponsorship money conceivably could come pouring into town. There would be so many benefits that I must question the logic of keeping the activity illegal and unsafe, for the sake of those who would prefer not to hear the noise on scheduled evenings.

My son has a hot car, and he knows a lot of people with hot cars. We have driven through neighborhoods, and he has pointed out house after house where hot cars sit in garages — waiting. This town has muscle cars galore. Drag racing happens regularly. Sometimes races are planned — and carefully executed — with lookouts placed at strategic locations with cell phones, CBs or other communication devices to alert the participants when law enforcement approaches.

Much of our racing happens on city streets, from light to light, after one car throws a rev and another car answers in a like manner. Often, an agreement is made to meet late at night, at any of a number of known spots, to put the cars and drivers to a more meaningful test.

Yes, I know some of these spots, but I would never disclose them. I’ll say only that lives are put at risk because these are not ideal spots. Wild scenes play out, reminiscent of Natalie Wood waving her scarf in Rebel Without a Cause.

To tell these folks not to race is absurd, and ignores the obvious passion and determination of enthusiasts. Instead, I invite and advise our community leaders to find a way to allow a drag strip in our community.

With the support of the community, I’d wager that a ton of money — for development and management — would come pouring forth from the many enthusiasts throughout town. Let’s do it!

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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