All drifting events at Altamont Motorsports Park are on an indefinite hiatus, and race organizers violated a stay from the county by hosting a drifting event April 15, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors ruled Tuesday.
The board voted 4-0, with one member excused, to restrict all racing at the 41-year-old track to the half- and quarter-mile paved ovals, and also voted 3-1 with one member excused to allow overnight recreational vehicle camping with restrictions.
The track’s infield road course — added in 2006 — on which drifting and other events were held, now cannot be used until a new conditional use permit is approved for the track, or until the track is rezoned.
Both motions were proposed by District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty, who told drifters present that the ban had nothing to do with their sport, but was motivated instead by what he called “the inability to tell the truth” by track officials.
“I was a big supporter of that racetrack,” said Haggerty, whose district includes the track and all its surrounding property. “For all the drifters that are here, I feel bad for them. It’s your credibility that screwed this up,” he added, addressing track officials present.
Altamont renamed a planned drifting event on April 15 to “auto-X” (pronounced autocross) after the county imposed a stay on drifting. County officials were present for part of the auto-X event, but as soon as they left, the track resumed drifting, neighbors said.
Video played at the meeting — also available on YouTube.com — showed what supervisors understood to be drifting at the track, despite the county-mandated stay.
“That was drifting,” said Haggerty, who also admonished track officials for advertising free concerts on the track’s Web site, though concerts are not allowed at the track under county law. “You changed the name and you drifted. That’s an issue of credibility.”
Driftbattle, the drifting group present at the track April 15, still advertised drifting events at the track on its Web site late Tuesday.
The Sierra Club and the chairman of the East County Board of Zoning Adjustments, the body that voted 2-1 in March to allow drifting at the track, also spoke out at Tuesday’s meeting against allowing drifting at Altamont.
A group called the Community for a Better Altamont appealed the zoning board decision, sending the issue to the supervisors.
The track has been allowed to operate under an expired 1996 conditional use permit while it moves to renew its permit or rezone its property. Haggerty said the motion to stop drifting brings operations closer to what the 1996 CUP intended, but warned that that, too, could be taken away.
“If you continue to push the envelope, you will lose your CUP or any hope of ever seeing a race at the Altamont again,” Haggerty said. “I don’t care about the investment of dollars — I care about the community.”
The supervisors also voted to restrict on-site RVs to no more than 30, limited the nights per season camping is allowed to seven — all Saturdays — and mandated that the track pay for an Alameda County Sheriffs deputy to be on site during any and all camping events.
Altamont Motorsports Park LLC CEO and Chairman John Condren, did not address the meeting, but said that “credibility is something that’s proven over time.”
“As we continue to work closely with Alameda County, I’m sure that any questions regarding credibility will be quickly resolved,” said Condren, who said that any movement to appeal the board’s decision would have to wait until Altamont’s next board meeting.
Condren is also project manager of Riverside Motorsports Park LLC’s plans to build a 1,200 acre, $250 million racing complex in Merced County, where he has had to face scrutiny over alleged false claims made about his past, including his education and business dealings.
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