Rebuilding a Racetrack Has Big Implications for NASCAR in Southern California

What is the future of racing in Fontana?

Auto Club Speedway
An aerial view of Auto Club Speedway on February 27, 2023.
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

Rebuilding a facility that’s housed sporting events for decades is no easy task, no matter what sport is featured there. But when it comes to auto racing facilities, which might only hold one big-ticket event annually, the stakes are a lot higher. And the case of the track historically known as Auto Club Speedway — located in Fontana, California and featuring a Wolfgang Puck restaurant — this conundrum comes particularly into focus.

A recent article by John Cherwa in the Los Angeles Times provides a good overview of the issues surrounding the Fontana racetrack. Demolition began last year, with a plan to rebuild as a short track facility. One question looms over everything else, though: when, exactly, will this happen?

“Right now we just don’t have anything to discuss until we have some approvals done,” track president Dave Allen told the Times. As for when the rebuilt track would host a race, Allen hinted that it would be a few years, telling Cherwa, “most likely it wouldn’t be ready next year.”

For now, there’s the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, originally slated for Sunday but pushed back a day due to concerns over the weather. As Cherwa pointed out at the Times, this is the third installment on a contract that provided for three events — leaving Southern California’s NASCAR future ambiguous.

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The Fontana track’s proximity to Los Angeles does beg the question of how the racing circuit prioritizes large cities. That said, it might be instructive to note that, on the nation’s opposite coast, New York City doesn’t have much of a local NASCAR presence either. The closest track to the Big Apple are both several hours’ drive away — in Watkins Glen, New York and Dover, Delaware. Will something similar be in the cards for Los Angeles? Stay tuned.

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