End of an era? Sacramento Raceway Park drag strip could be sold in coming months (2024)

Joe Davidson

·4 min read

The drag strip has been a haven for racing enthusiasts for more than 50 years.

For the past half-century, fans at Sacramento Raceway Park have mixed in cheer; the view of cars of all shapes, sizes, colors and makes; and the sounds of engines and tires at 5305 Excelsior Road.

But the action may soon come to a screeching halt.

The owners of Sacramento Raceway Park, located south of Rancho Cordova in Sacramento County’s Vineyard area, announced Thursday on its social media platforms that there is a “potential buyer lined up for the land” on which SRP owns and operates. The statement said the sale “is by no means official yet.”

A sale could happen as early as September, according to the owners’ statement, meaning this summer would mark the venue’s final stretch.

The statement read, in part: “To prevent the spread of misinformation on social media, we’d like to send out this official announcement: Due to the influx of rumors going around about the potential closure of Sacramento Raceway, we would like to issue an official SRP statement with full transparency for our valued racers and patrons who have supported the track for more than 5 decades.

“There is a potential buyer lined up for the land that SRP owns and operates. The sale is by no means official yet, and we will issue a statement if and when it is. We understand how frustrating this can be and we will update you as soon as possible. The current timeline is around September of 2023. If at that point in time it does go through, we will finish out the remainder of the 2023 season and SRP would be officially closed by 2024.

“If the sale does not go through, we will continue operating for as long as possible.”

The strip was built in 1964 on a 198-acre property that was purchased in 1967 by Western Oil Development and originally named Sacramento Raceway.

The Smith family of Sacramento purchased the strip in 1971, and followed up with a number of upgrades.

The next closest 1/4-mile drag strip is Sonoma Raceway at Sears Point, more than an hour drive from Sacramento. Other paved drag strips in the state include Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, Famoso Dragstrip in McFarland in Kern County and Redding Dragstrip.

The news hit longtime racing fans hard, with many going to the Sacramento Raceway Park social media posts to express anger or sorrow.

The voices include Suzanne Cottrell, a lifelong Sacramento County resident and racing fan. She is a decades-long friend of Dave Smith, the drag strip owner, deeming him “as family.”

In fact, last fall, Cottrell’s step mother, Kathy, and Dave’s wife, Nancy, died within weeks of each other. The grieving husbands embraced and talked old times, including racing. Cottrell defended the Smith family in a phone conversation with The Bee, insisting that the family wasn’t “quitting” on regional race fans.

“It’s been inevitable for years that this would happen,” she said of a likely sale. “It’s been harder and harder with permits and smaller crowds. People just don’t understand. Yes, there will be a lot of money involved if it sells, but that’s not why they’re selling. They’d sell because the writing is on the wall and Dave is in his 80s. He and Nancy loved the drag strip. They put everything into it for more than 50 years. It’ll be so hard for Dave if this does sell. The guy deserves a little peace here.”

Cottrell said she has done all one can do on that drag strip. She’s raced cars, cheered family and friends who raced. She was a flag girl on the track, worked the clocks, helped test cars.

“We’d put a tow rope on a car and take it down Excelsior to the strip,” she said with a laugh. “It’s been a huge part of my life. We won’t see a strip like this around here any more. I love Sonoma and Sears Point, and we’ll be racing out there this weekend, but it’s not the same. It’s a second home but it isn’t home.”

Cottrell said the best thing racing fans can do is show up at the strip.

“Do so for the rest of the year, and show up as a thank you if nothing else,” she said. “If you’re really going to miss this track, then bring anyone and everyone and pack the place. It hasn’t been packed in a long time. We can still do that.”

End of an era? Sacramento Raceway Park drag strip could be sold in coming months (1)

End of an era? Sacramento Raceway Park drag strip could be sold in coming months (2024)


Has Sacramento Raceway been sold? ›

Sacramento Raceway, which ended decades of racing earlier this year, has sold to a group making new plans for the 191-acre property.

What happened to the Commerce Drag Strip? ›

NHRA has announced intentions to sell the property after the 2021 meet. NHRA announced that the "2021 NHRA Southern Nationals would be the final major NHRA national event to be held at historic Atlanta Dragway in Commerce, GA."

When was Sacramento Raceway built? ›

The legacy of this iconic dragstrip, built in 1964 by Vastine Smith, spans over 50 years. Dave and Nancy Smith took over in 1970, investing $50,000 in upgrades and establishing the track as an NHRA-sanctioned venue.

How much did Sacramento Raceway sell for? ›

A&S Family Properties bought it for $11 million.

Are they getting rid of California Speedway? ›

Its last IndyCar race was the 2015 MAVTV 500. In 2023, the track was closed for reconstruction as part of the Next Gen California project and demolition started in October 2023.

Why are they closing Sacramento Raceway? ›

“This is the 53rd Governor's Cup. And it is our last big Hurrah,” said Rick Morris, who is tech and safety inspector at the Sacramento Raceway Park since 1966. The Smith family tells ABC10 it is closing the racetrack in part because of the ongoing back and forth with Sacramento County.

What's going to happen to California speedway? ›

The future of NASCAR's Fontana track remains uncertain as the former 2-mile speedway continues to undergo a reconfiguration. According to the Los Angeles Times, Track President Dave Allen said that the reconfigured track “most likely” would not be ready for the start of the 2025 Cup Series season.

Why are they closing Phoenix Raceway? ›

The track was saved from closing last year and is back to hosting NHRA events in front of huge crowds for the annual drag-racing event. The facility was supposed be shut down, as it was going to be replaced by an overpass and roadway for the I-10 extension.

Why are so many NHRA tracks closing? ›

But at the same time, owning a drag strip is a costly proposition, what with maintenance, promotion, marketing, selling tickets, attracting media, etc. And the NHRA has suffered a significant downturn in revenue over the last 10-plus years.

Why is NHRA leaving Denver? ›

'We really feel comfortable with why we're leaving: We need more space,' owner John Bandimere Jr. says.

Why is NHRA leaving Topeka, Kansas? ›

Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka has held NHRA national events since 1989. Heartland closing due to ongoing tax and land dispute with Shawnee County (Kansas).

What is the oldest speedway? ›

Year Opened: 1903

The Milwaukee Mile is the oldest operating motor speedway in the world, hosting races for over a century. Originally a horse racing track, it was repurposed for automobile racing in 1903 and has since been a cornerstone of American motorsports.

When was the first Nascar race at California Speedway? ›

The first race to ever take place at California Speedway was a NASCAR Winston West Series (now ARCA Menards Series West) event won by Ken Schrader on June 21, 1997. The very next day, California native Jeff Gordon won the first Cup Series race at the facility, the appropriately named California 500.

Where did Speedway Motors start? ›

Lincoln, NE native D. William Smith founded Speedway Motors, “America's Oldest Speed Shop®,” in 1952. It became one of the world's largest.

Who bought Cordova Dragway? ›

On Wednesday, the Cordova International Raceway held a ribbon cutting ceremony on the resurfaced track and other renovations. General Manager, Bobbi Jo Cox, says last fall, the former owners Scott and Laura Gardner sold Cordova Dragway Park to IRG Sports Entertainment.

How much is Eagle Raceway for sale? ›

Eagle Raceway has been put up for sale by the owner, Roger Hadan. The 52+ acres is listed for $3.9 million dollars. The listing states the track can seat 8,200 people in the grandstands.

Who bought Route 66 Raceway? ›

-- February 8, 2007 - International Speedway Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select Market: ISCA; OTC Bulletin Board: ISCB) ("ISC") today announced it has completed the acquisition of Raceway Associates, LLC ("Raceway Associates"), owner and operator of Chicagoland Speedway and Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois.

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