Where Can Los Angeles Go To See More NASCAR?
There's great NASCAR racing right here in our own backyard.
After a gigantic motorsports event at the Coliseum, where can we get more?
By Doug Stokes
Wed, Feb 16, 2022 07:03 PM PST
There was a gigantic motorsports event here in Los Angeles over the weekend of February 4-5, maybe you heard about it or watched it on TV... NASCAR (The National Association for Stock Car Racing), rented out the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, tore up the playing field and covered the floor of the stadium with 14,000 cubic yards (that’s roughly 300,000 tons) of asphalt, making the place into a flat track and ran a special “Clash” racing event featuring 36 champion drivers from across the country.
NASCAR didn’t say, but it’s very easy to believe the widely-speculated cost of the preparations for this show to be somewhere due north of a million dollars. The track was “smallish”, a quarter-mile (1320 feet) around and the racing was at times pretty intense. Our editor-at-large Doug Stokes (who has a bit of a background in motorsports) here asks a million-dollar question: namely, what’s next (and why?) - The Editor
Where Can Los Angeles Go To See More NASCAR?
As you’ve read in the papers, watched on TV, or even were a part of the announced crowd of some 50,000 at the event, NASCAR ran a big promotional stock car race in Los Angeles last weekend hoping to get people like you (and you too) to get interested in stock car racing.
Next step, next question: where can you see more?
Well … the people at NASCAR (who own the track there) suggest that you venture out to the near edge of San Bernardino County and check in at the massive Auto Club Speedway in Fontana to watch a 400-mile NASCAR Cup race (the “Wise Power 400”) coming up on Sunday, February 27th. That’s 200 laps on this 2-mile long, banked, “D-shaped” oval track. There’s no “Half-Time” break scheduled for this one, but a pre-race concert by “Collective Soul” is on the docket for early-arriving fans.
Ticket prices at the sprawling, 122,000-seat, mega-speedway start in the $50-range and parking is free. The average speed of the race cars is well over 150 miles per hour and the cars come rifling by the tall grandstands traveling at very close to 200. It's quite a spectacle and it happens only once a year.
But, understand, it will be nothing at all like the close-quarters, in-your-face action that short track racing provides, the kind of show that NASCAR fans and potential fans were just given a pretty fair old sample of at the LA Coliseum. So … for lots more of that sort of tight-track, high-tension racing I might suggest LA area fans head out to Irwindale Speedway for one of their season-long list of NASCAR-sanctioned family-friendly Saturday night events. Races there feature local stars of tomorrow in close competition on a very fast, progressively-banked 1/2-mile oval track - that’s twice the length of the 1/4-mile temporary exhibition track at the Coliseum.
Interestingly enough, just a click under 20 percent (19.4) of the very special group of NASCAR megastar drivers who duked it out on that super-tight track in Exposition Park have all raced (and done quite well) at Irwindale over the years.
The Speedway (located about 20 mile East of downtown LA) has 6,500 seats, numerous (and very clean) restrooms, good concessions, and (something that just isn’t possible at huge races like the huge upcoming event in Fontana) open to the public pits after the races. Fans are encouraged to head over to meet the drivers who they have been cheering on all night.
Racing Is Personal At A Real Short Track
Oh yeah … instead of a pre-race concert, at Irwindale fans are always invited to venture right down on the racetrack itself to meet the drivers in a pre-race autograph session where they can get an up-close and personal look at the race cars, meet the drivers, get a photo or two, put a star-struck 6-year old in the seat of a real race car, and even get a first-hand feel for what the track looks like right from the actual racing surface.
Best advice: take a look at the track’s website for much more information on weekly events there (which even include racing your own car on the track’s NHRA-sanctioned 1/8-mile drag strip!).
Irwindale Is Personal For Me
By the way, I worked at Irwindale as the PR person for a number of years, starting with the ground-breaking in 1998 (I'm retired now) so I’m a bit biased about the place … you’ll pardon me for that, I hope.
I can tell you this with a clear conscience: if you went to the Coliseum exhibition, and liked the sort of tight racing that you saw there, you’ve got a whole new level of excitement and driving skill waiting for you about 20 or so miles East of the Coliseum.
...When he was a guest at Irwindale Speedway for the first Toyota All-Star Showdown in January of 2011, NASCAR Hall of Fame Driver and veteran TV commentator Darrell Waltrip turned to me up in the press box and said: "This is some of the best short track racing I've ever seen." ... I had to agree with him.
One more thing, if you’re not from the LA area there are great short tracks all over the country that are your local place to enjoy great stock car racing. Please take a look at speedwaysonline.com and go see a race close up and personal. Wear earplugs and don’t forget to turn your head as the cars streak past (TV turns your head for you … on-site the experience is far more physical).
About The Author
Doug has a long and wide-ranging history in the motoring business. He served five years as the Executive Director of the International Kart Federation, and was the PR guy for the Mickey Thompson's Off-Road Championship Gran Prix. He worked racing PR for both Honda and Suzuki and was a senior PR person on the first Los Angeles (Vintage) Grand Prix. He was also the first PR Manager for Perris Auto Speedway, and spent over 20 years as the VP of Communications at Irwindale Speedway. Stokes is the recipient of the American Autowriters and Broadcaster’s 2005 Chapman Award for Excellence in Public Relations and was honored in 2015 by the Motor Press Guild with their Dean Batchelor Lifetime Achievement Award. “… I’ve also been reviewing automobiles and books for over 20 years, and really enjoy my LA Car assignments.” he added.