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City of Alameda Now in Auto Racing Business

A reader and Porsche owner tipped us off to this upcoming event at Alameda Point, on the old airfield – Porsche Club of America autocross racing at Alameda Point. The Porsche Club Golden Gate Region proudly announces on their website that:

We are excited to see our first 2009 autocross coming together. As planned, it will be at the Alameda venue on March 21.

Evidently the City is not satisfied with lawsuits over the death of Dr. Attari in the estuary at the foot of Grand Street, or the Nuveen and Vectren lawsuits over Alameda Power & Telecom’s failed telecom division. Now they want to generate some more lawsuits from some weekend-warrior Porsche owner injuring himself or others during a race at Alameda Point.

We’ve got no problem with luxury or exotic car owners testing their cars to their limits, but we question if it’s appropriate to do so on land controlled by the City of Alameda (strictly speaking, the Alameda Re-use and Redevelopment Agency) and we wonder what the liabilities are for the City should someone – a driver or a spectator get injured. To consider just one recent example of the dangers – there was a 6 year-old boy killed in Washington State at a monster truck rally. Autocross looks to be a form of street-racing in a slightly controlled environment – street-racing has produced multiple deaths in Oakland and across the country in recent years. And there is no question at all that this is racing. The PCA website clearly states that :

Autocrossing with GGR

Autocross is a sport where you try to drive around a course in the shortest possible time. The course is laid out in a big empty parking lot and outlined by pylons. The rules are simple: go as fast as you can but don’t knock down any pylons (one second time penalty per pylon). Every autocross is also a driver education class, as there are qualified instructors available at each one. Check out our calendar of upcoming events.

Will I Hurt My Car?
No, Porsches were engineered to be driven this way. Your car has a racing heritage and if you listen, it is begging you to take it autocrossing. Courses are laid out so they do not come close to light poles and other immovable objects. You will wear out tires and brakes faster, but the wear is not significant from a single autocross.

The Autocross is evidently scheduled for two upcoming dates in 2009 in Alameda:

3/21/09 Autocross at Alameda 7am
4/25/09 Autocross at Alameda 7am

5/16/09 Autocross “Porboys Begineer’s AX School” at Alameda 7am
5/30 & 5/31 Autocross at Stockton Fairgrounds 7am

We’re pressing the City for more details on this event, who the backers are and who the people are within City Hall who signed-off on this event.

17 comments to City of Alameda Now in Auto Racing Business

  • Keath

    I really find it interesting what little research goes into an opinion piece like this.

    Facts –
    1. autocross is not “street racing”. It is a controlled timed, low speed event with one vehicle on course at a time. The vehicles do not race each other, as they do in an illegal street race, they race against the clock in a controlled setting.
    2. Alameda “rents” the facility to an organization that has significant insurance and preparation for such events, and is not in the “racing business”.

    Before writing a misleading and erroneous piece to inflame the public towards a very negative point of view, a little more research would due your readers a greater service.

  • Maynard Biggs

    There are many municipalities across the nation that permit the use of their property for motorsport, not just Alameda. This includes nationally known events like monster trucks and supercross as well as ‘grass roots’ organized events, like the PCA. The most obvious use of public facilities is the Long Beach Grand Prix where public streets are closed off for many days of racing.

    One cannot deny that incidents do happen, but the general modus operandi of news outlets is to report when things go wrong (the abnormal), not when things go right (the normal).

    The use of the term ‘street racing’ is inflammatory and an ignorant attempt to generalize and demonize a benign activity. ‘Street racing’ is unregulated and does not take the general population into account even though in occurs within the general population. The entire point of using a factility such as Alameda Point is to keep away from the general population. Use of the venue is subject to all sorts of regulatory compliance, Participation within the PCA is also subject to compliance — unsafe behavior is monitored, discouraged, and if need be, excluded from participation.

    In regard to ‘street racing’, some local governments have actively joined with event organinzers to make their facitilies availabe for motorsport in a effort to move street racing from the street to a more controlled, safer, situation.

  • Anonymous

    I am a member of this Porsche Club and am active in its autocross series. I am concerned that this article is a little on the inflammatory side, and there’s not cause for the level of concern it suggests is warranted. I thought I would post a reply, though I am not speaking on behalf of the club.

    As an initial matter, autocross events are commonplace in the Bay Area. The Sports Car Club of America, the American Autocross Series, the Porsche Club and a number of other groups host safe, enjoyable events at a number of venues. For example, I’ve participated in various autocross events at the Oakland Coliseum, Bay Meadows, Candlestick Park, Sonoma Airport, Marina Airport and, of course, Alameda Point. In fact, GGR has been holding events at Alameda Point for several years now, so this isn’t a new development.

    Regarding safety and liability, to my knowledge, there has never been any kind of safety incident at a GGR autocross, whether at Alameda Point or otherwise. Safety is priority number one with this group and it shows in their events. To equate PCA’s autocross events with Oakland street racing is simply inappropriate. Moreover, even in the highly unlikely event of an incident, the City is thoroughly released of any claims and completely indemnified by the Club.

    Finally, I understand that GGR went through the very public and scrutized process of obtaining a Use Permit for its events. As part of that process, the events are strictly controlled by conditions imposed by the City, such as a maximum speed of (I believe) 55 m.p.h., a maximum number of participants, prohibition on spectators, etc.

    Thank you for allowing me to post a reply to your article.

  • Anonymous

    Please remove the word “news” from the title of your website.

    At most, rants like this should be limited to blogs, bulletin boards and other forums where readers are not lead to believe that what they are reading is factual, researched or even well thought out.

  • Mike

    I believe, if this writer truly feels there is any merit to any part of his/her argument, that they have inadvertently subverted their own agenda through such a blatant, and obviously hastily and incompletely researched, hatchet job.

    Please either print a retraction or at least provide a realistic and comprehensive reporting of facts. The article above is nothing more than a sophomoric tirade presented from atop a soapbox and undermines any credibility of this “news” service.

  • Porsche Club Member

    I too need to take exception to this blog as it attempts to distort what I regard as a car control clinic. When Mr. Howard quotes the local PCA website about “go as fast as you can” he needs to understand that there are plenty of rules about speeds. The courses are set-up to control speed… it has too many features and obsticles (cones) – by design. These features limit the speeds. Our typical autocross runs at much lower speeds than posted on our local freeway. Please don’t be mislead.

    I’m a 63 going on 64 year old autocrosser and have been enjoying this sport for many, many years. I know of no injuries incurred as a result of these events. Many drivers bring there young, licensed kids to these events to learn car control and how to be safer on the street. Remember, we’re not street racers, it is not wheel to wheel like Nascar. By the way, it’s also called “Solo”, because only one car at a time is released approximately every 20-25 seconds. And finally, almost all of these cars are street legal and not dedicated to Autocross. They have the same safety features that any of today’s modern cars have and must pass a safety inspection at every event before being allow to participate.

    thank you

  • Mark

    Clearly the individual posting this is not a reporter or an interviewer. If so, he or she would have done some basic research and discovered what auto cross is and isn’t. It is not racing, it is not people in ultra expensive cars and, as set out in the other posts, it is sanctioned and insurance is provided by the sanctioning body.
    I truly suggest that inflammatory, unnecessary, unresearched posts like this one are irresponsible at best.
    Further, they are uncalled for.
    The outright lies and half-truths in this article are outrageous.

  • Pete

    While I don’t agree with the content of this story, I think in general the tone of the comments here are a little harsh towards the author. I think it’s clear he doesn’t know what autocross is, and isn’t aware that it’s been going on both at Alameda and all around him for years.

    I think it’s very understandable for someone to hear the word “racing” and think “dangerous”. Let’s be frank- most racing is. But I suspect the writer hasn’t heard of “Autocross” before, and for good reason- it’s not dangerous and hence doesn’t make headlines. This despite the fact that it’s the second most common form of motorsport in the country, after drag racing. It’s done at around a dozen sites in and around the bay area, and literally thousands of sites across the country, by hundreds of thousands of people. The fact that the average person hasn’t seen headlines is a testiment to the overall safety of the sport.

    I’d invite the author out to witness an event in person, see what it’s all about and then perhaps reconsider his stance. I suspect he’ll find the participants every bit as safety conscious as he is, if not more so. After all it’s their butts on the line.

  • Porsche CLub Member

    I too am a long standing Porsche CLub member who has been coming to Alameda for years to enjoy these PCA autocross events. PCA has been utilizing this Alameda site for several years to hold these family focused autocross events with no issues in the past. I’m nearly 50 years old and drive my street car at these events and dont think I fit the profile of a “street racer”. I’m a law abiding driver on public streets. Speeds at these events never exceed legal speeds seen on our public roads and any exhibtion of speed is strictly prohibited by the PCA organizers. Safety is reviewed at each event at meeting with all particpants. Course and drivers are closely monitored and course marshalls with radios are all trained to use red flags if a driver is being unsafe to stop the event – this rarely occurs as all drivers in PCA events typically obey safety regulations. The event does not draw spectators just particpants who stage their cars far from where drivers are manuevering around the cone lined course.

    In my 35 years of attending autocross I have never seen anyone injured. This is a safe driver education/timed event where single cars move at around a cone lined obstacle course at controlable speeds. PCA has years of safely running these types of events and have qualified people to manage all aspects of the event from safety inspections of the cars to driver education.

    The comparison of PCA autocross to street racing or sanctioned racing events such as Monster trucks isnt accurate. I can understand the writers concerns, but I would encorage him to speak with PCA officials.

    Given that PCA has worked very well with the City of Alameda over the past several years in holding many events at this site in past years I dont see extreme liability risks as outlined in the blog above. PCA has a very responsible and mostly older membersip who appreciate the safety concerns of the city. We value what the city has afforded us in the past and hope we can continue to use the site in the future.

    When my wife and I attend these events we spend money in the town of Alameda at resturants and other shops in the area. We would hate to see these canceled and not get to the area as often. I think you will find most PCA members to share similar focus on safety and all of us truly respect the privelige extended by the city and citizens of Alameda to use the site several times a year for these events.

  • SCCA Member

    Please look at this MSNBC link to a story about the type of “Street Racers” that attend these sorts of events. Three generations of this family all participate in Autocrossing. I hardly think 2 grandparents and a family of 4 can be compared to the “Illegal Street Racers” in Alameda

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/28998725#28998725

  • Audrian

    Please don’t delete this blog. And then attend one of your posted events, learn from it write what it really is all about, but include an apology on this current blog.

  • Thank you all. You’ve written our article for us.

  • SCCA PCA Member

    I would suggest that the writer of this blog come to the next event so they can write an article based on fact. The term “street racer” is far far from the truth. Autocross is a drivers skills event where the participant negotiates a clearly defined course of traffic pylons in the shortest time possible. It is not uncommon for top competitors to have there finishing positions separated by less than 0.100 of a second.

    Porsche Club of America has been running at Alameda Point for the past two years and I wonder if any Alameda residents have even noticed us. You clearly did not notice us. We only leave behind dollars for the city and chalk marks on the ground after each event.

    Please come to our next event and then write an informed article. I am sure the residents of Alameda, the city council and the thousands of bay area autocrossers would apprecitate more informed reporting.

  • We will glady accept a submission including photographs and fact-checkable references from autocross enthusiasts/advocates who want to write something on the next event.

  • Apollo

    Author is in great need of a head-check. Your lack of understanding of the sport is ridiculous! Go watch and event or two, check the stats (so far I am not aware of one fatality at SCCA or PCA event), than write articles about it. Autocross is credited for many SAVED lives, rather than deaths. Most autocrossers gain superior driving skills that save them in daily commute.
    Shame on you for being such a moron!

  • Stephen_the_Red

    Dear “Action Alameda” – Why should WE provide photographs and fact-checkable references regarding autocross events. Aren’t YOU the professional journalists who should be doing your jobs? Get off your lazy duffs, and waddle out to the track on the dates indicated. Get press credentials and get to work.

  • Because we can’t be everywhere to cover every event, and this is your chance to cover your sport they way you think it should be covered…

    Comments on this post have been disabled because of the name-calling, in accordance with our Comment Policy. We’ll say it again – if someone from the community wants to submit an article that provides coverage of an upcoming event, we’ll run it.

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