Is San Diego once again the Auto Racing Capital of America?


The 1st auto racetrack in America was built in Lakeside. It opened in 1907 starring the most famous car driver at that time, Barney Oldfield. By 1915, as the nation’s attention was turned towards a major auto race on the streets of Point Loma, the Los Angeles Times noted “San Diego is now the automobile racing capital of America“.

Auto racetracks no longer hold prominence in San Diego. The track at Lakeside has been replaced by a community park surrounding Lindo Lake while the streets of Point Loma have developed a daily hum of traffic serving a community that has grown severalfold since the days of serving as a race course.

San Diego still has its fair share of unique auto racing events from the classic cars speeding around the Naval Air Station each September in the Coronado Speed Festival to fancy sports car road races for those who own a Lamborghini, Ferrari, or Porsche.

However, San Diego continues to be in the national spotlight when it comes to auto racing. We are no longer known for race tracks but we are certainly becoming known for our auto racing drivers. (And, I’m not talking about the kind you see everday on our local freeways.)

This weekend San Diego-raised drivers won several major auto awards. The most notable was won by El Cajon’s Jimmie Johnson. He became the first driver in NASCAR history to win four consecutive NASCAR Series Championships. That’s quite impressive considering NASCAR is generally seen as being dominated by drivers from the Deep South, where most of the races take place. (Congratulations Jimmie!)

San Diego drivers, led by the McMillan’s who won the top prize, also brought home several trophies from the Baja 1000 races in Mexico this weekend.  For those not familiar with the Baja 1000 (I had not heard of it until I moved out West), it’s the most grueling auto race in the world that makes its way through about 1,000 miles of the Mexican desert. The race is best captured in a documentary called ‘Dust to Glory’, which is shown on VERSUS once in a great while. You can also find it at Amazon.

Although San Diego is no longer a major auto racing venue, our area has certainly groomed some amazing auto racing drivers.  The famous auto racing venues in Indianapolis and Daytona may have their speedways but San Diego is producing the top drivers. I think this gives us a legitimate right to consider ourselves the 2009 Auto Racing Capital of America. What do you think?

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2 Responses to “Is San Diego once again the Auto Racing Capital of America?”

  1. Evangelou Racing says:

    San Diego still has a auto racing track! The Barona Speedway a 1/4 mile dirt oval track just 5 min North of The Barona Casino. Our 3 car team competes in the Pure Stock Division and our season begins on March 27, 2010 and continues until November 6, 2010 with a 100 lap enduro race. So spread the word out there so we can make our sponsors proud and pack the stands with fans, Thank You

  2. Michael says:

    I love San Diego, but Indianapolis is the Racing Capital.

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