Talk at the start of most racing seasons revolves around who is going to drive what kind of car and for whom, and who has a new sponsor.
Not this year.
Most of the bench talk at the start of the 1986 season centers on where there will be racing next year.
Riverside International Raceway, one of the most famous road racing circuits in the world, is closing in November and as yet no new site has been found to replace it. It has been the heart of West Coast racing since 1957, even more so since Ontario Motor Speedway was shut down in 1980.
Schedule-makers for NASCAR stock cars, IMSA and SCCA sports cars and SCORE off-road vehicles are puzzled as to what to do. The only other road race course in the area is Willow Springs, 90 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
"I know some people are saying that we're not serious about searching for a new site but we are deadly serious," said Dan Greenwood, RIR president. "I can assure you that.
"It's getting frustrating, however, to look and look and not be in a position to finalize anything."
Greenwood said he has been searching for 14 months, criss-crossing the Southland from San Diego County to Ventura County.
"The raceway people have been looking for two and a half years, although the better part of a year was lost working on the Prado Dam site," Greenwood said.
The Prado site, near Corona, was formally announced as the new race track site early in 1985 but it had to be dropped later because of access restraints.
Next came the Pacific Clay property near Alberhill, in the I-15 corridor between Corona and Lake Elsinore.
"That deal fell apart when we couldn't reach an agreement on price," Greenwood said. "We are now looking at another piece of land in the same general area. The engineers will take a look at it to see if what we want can be built on the amount of land we were offered."
Riverside officials want to build a 1 3/4-mile banked oval and a road race course, which would call for 320 to 400 acres, depending on the terrain.
"I have seen just about every parcel of open land in Southern California from a helicopter," Greenwood said. "I'm going out Monday to look over three more sites, one in Riverside County, one in the Palmdale area in Los Angeles County and one in Ventura County. One of these days we'll find what we want, at a price we can handle, and we'll go to work building a new facility."
MOTOCROSS--A fund-raising auction for injured rider Danny (Magoo) Chandler will be held Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Anaheim Supercross in Anaheim Stadium. Chandler was critically injured at the Paris Supercross last Dec. 4 and is partially paralyzed. Promoter Mike Goodwin is adding four-wheel vehicles to his Anaheim Supercross. They will run on a separate course from the motorcycles.
ALL-AMERICANS--Seven of the 11 living members of the 1985 American Auto Racing Writers & Broadcasters Assn. Skoal All-American team will be at the Queen Mary Friday night to receive their awards. Scheduled to attend are drag racers Don Garlits and Kenny Bernstein, road racers Al Holbert, Wally Dallenbach Jr. and Johnny Jones, off-road racer Roger Mears and Indy car champion Al Unser.
OFF-ROAD--Sand drag official Don Brown of San Bernardino and desert racing champion Bud Feldkamp of Redlands have joined hands to operate the Glen Helen Off-Highway Vehicle Park in the 600-acre former Arroyo Cycle Park five miles north of San Bernardino. They plan to conduct motocross, ATV and off-road racing, plus tractor pulls and mudbogs. . . . The combined SCORE International and High Desert Racing Assn. awards banquet will be held Saturday night at the Anaheim Hilton.