Improvements include moving pit road to Turn 2, lengthening the straightaways, and redoing
All American Speedway started the '08 season with a problem most tracks would love to have: It ran out of seats.
The track's opener featured the NASCAR Camping World West Series, formerly Winston West. It was the first time in 25 years the series had run there. Renovations completed in early 2007 earned the track sanctioning by NASCAR, making it possible for the West's oldest series, as well as the NASCAR Whelen All- American Series, to compete at the 1/3-mile oval. The opening event in late March featuring the West Series sold out two days in advance with a capacity of 3,500.
"Bringing in a large touring series to a packed house means a lot," says Bill McAnally, promoter of the event.
Located at the Placer County Fairgrounds in Roseville, California, the track is about 16 miles northeast of Sacramento. Like other tracks in the West, it began life as a quarter-mile dirt oval and rodeo stadium in 1955. In 1972 it was paved and renamed All American Speedway.
McAnally was instrumental in the recent renovations. Bill McAnally Racing (BMR), based in Antelope, California, won three championships in the West Series and has three drivers competing in the series this year.
"It started with Stockton 99 Speedway closing," McAnally says. "As part of the Drive for Diversity program, we (BMR) had to fall into a NASCAR track. Looking at our options, Altamont (Speedway) is 85 miles away and Madera (Speedway) around 160. All American Speedway is only five miles up the road. I raced my first Bomber race and won my first Late Model championship there."
The season opener played to a full house. JUNE BOONE
McAnally started looking at what it would take to make the track eligible for a NASCAR sanction. "I talked to the fair board. They said if you can raise the money, go ahead," he says. "Over 30 local businesses helped. In all, there's an investment of 1.2 million dollars."
"The renovations are mainly safety improvements," says Dennis Gage, director of operations at the track. "Turns 3 and 4 had been hit by two or three very heavy racecars and were pretty badly damaged. The same area had both the on- and offramps. So you couldn't stage the cars and the offramp went into the crowded pit area.
"We tore out all the walls, moved the pit area, and made it about four times bigger," Gage adds. "The offramp was moved to Turn 2 and the onramp is at Turn 3. There's a new staging area. We now have the ability to stage two events. The offramp isn't perfect, but it's a lot better."
Other improvements include entirely new fencing, new areas for seating, better drainage, new retaining walls, and new public address and lighting systems.
Also included is fresh paving, increasing the track to 1/3-mile at the outer edge.
"We have a longer straightaway and the corners have more banking," says McAnally. "You can race two wide now. It's easier to pass."
Eric Holmes, a BMR driver who won the inaugural Camping World West Series race, competed at All American Speedway 11 years ago. "All I remember was thinking how small it was," he says. "They did an excellent job on the track. The pits are nice and the track is really racy. It's a fun track."
Holmes says two very different turns give it its good characteristics. "You can't be overly aggressive in Turns 1 and 2. You have to be patient, but you can really drive aggressive in Turns 3 and 4. It's a little difficult to learn, but it's a great racing training ground."
Modifieds are a regular part of the show. JUNE BOONE
Another change at All American Speedway is a shift to unleaded gas for all classes.
"Two of the classes were already using unleaded gas," Gage says. "The city built right up against us. We are constantly vigilant about sound. The people who complain about noise tend to be concerned about the environment too."
In response to community concerns about noise, the track has implemented a two-phase plan.
Todd Bammer (18) and Jim Pettit II, shown here during practice, finished Second and Third,
"Phase one was to relocate all the speakers," says McAnally. "They are all aimed at the center of the track. Phase two was to build a sound wall (90 percent complete before the opening race). It really made it quieter. We're trying to make things better for our neighbors."
The track rules already stipulate 82 decibels as the maximum sound reading at the property line. Vehicles exceeding the limit are black-flagged.
"One of our real strengths," says Gage, "is good, solid car counts. We don't have any 10-car divisions. I think Modifieds, for instance, started out last year with 40 and settled down to about 25."
Four divisions of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series run at All American: Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks, and Bombers. On an average Saturday night, 1,600 people will fill the grandstands.
Special events include visits by USAC Sprint Cars, Western Scale Racing Association (Baby Grands and Mini Cups), the Northern California Modified Sprint Cars, Junior Focus Midgets, Ford Focus Midgets, and an All-American Vintage Classic.
Bill McAnally, promoter for the event, greets the Camping World West Series drivers. JUNE
Enduros at All American have a twist to add interest. "We have a water system of PVC pipe around the track with a pump and a barrel of soap. The system shoots soap and water onto the track," Gage says. "It works pretty well and adds some excitement to the racing."
This year a new class called Interceptors has been added. "We needed a feeder division," Gage says. "We needed a place for people to start racing and we needed to keep the cost down."
Gage's 30 years in a public safety fleet division led him to the idea of using old public safety vehicles, primarily Ford Crown Victorias.
"California buys 4,000 cars a year," he says. "They're readily available. They have 114-inch wheelbases, stock motors, big wheels, and you just put in a rollcage. We have very stock rules. They have to run the catalytic converter and muffler."
Competition equipment includes a racing seat, five-point seatbelt, window net, cutoff switch, and fuel cell. Gage hopes that police and fire departments may be drawn to the division and that the folks who actually drive them on the streets will come and compete against each other.
"We sent out letters to departments telling them about the class. They can decorate the cars any way they want, even theme them," he says. "The first race was going to be July 19, but we've had so much interest that we added a May 10 date."
To keep competitors from pouring too much money into their Interceptor cars, the class includes a $1,500 claim. The rules remind potential competitors that these are "cars we race, not racecars."
What's in the future for All American Speedway?
"We're starting to build some VIP suites," says McAnally. "We're looking at a different variety of food, nicer restrooms. It's all about making it better for the fans."
It must be working. McAnally says last year's attendance was up 66 percent.