One difference between it and Michigan will be in the grading of the track. Instead of Michigan's 18-degree banking on the turns and 11 degrees on the straights, it will be 18 and 14.
"Speeds have been getting too high," Richter said. "You don't need 200-mph speeds to have a good motor race."
Among the pitfalls to building a race track in Southern California, other than finding a piece of property, have been complaints from neighboring communities that find their way into political meetings.
Anticipating such problems, Richter and Kaiser Ventures officials began a series of community meetings to tell their story.
"Our first meeting was at the Carpenter's House Church, near the track site," Richter said. "It was an old-fashioned public forum. We had the usual complaints, but we tried to explain to them that what we had planned, a clean racing environment, was much better than what they had now.
"It's funny, most of the close-in neighbors had complaints about traffic, noise, the usual stuff. But after seeing our plan and learning what we had in mind, they're nearly all on our side now because they see their land values going up. This was a really depressed area and the new track may be the start of a rejuvenation of the community."
An economic impact study estimated that 1,200 permanent jobs will result from the speedway, with an average of $125-million income to the Inland Empire economy.
As a side effect of the town meetings, a speedway fan club, called the Pacesetters, was formed and now has 6,000 members.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors had to approve the speedway before permits could be granted. To assure that supervisors and staff members understood just what the project involved, they were taken to Michigan International Speedway to see what the track would look like. When they arrived, Walt Czarnecki, president of Penske Speedways Inc., greeted them, saying, "Welcome to the California Speedway."
Said Richter, "We wanted them to get a better understanding of what they could expect to have in place of a blighted steel mill. I think we got our point across."
The supervisors approved the plan unanimously last May 2.
By May 2, 1997, they should be watching the California Speedway's first major race.