The Auto Club Speedway in California has a rich history in NASCAR. From Jeff Gordon’s win in the first-ever race in 1997 to Jimmie Johnson’s six wins, the track has given fans many exciting races over the years. Now, in an unprecedented move, NASCAR plans to convert the Auto Club Speedway into a short track.
Calls for more short tracks in NASCAR have been going around for a while now. This season, NASCAR paid heed to the demands, signaling its intention to introduce more short track events.
Earlier this year, NASCAR moved the All-Star Race to the Bristol Motor Speedway from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was the first time this happened and was a clear move in favor of having more short track events.
Bristol, Martinsville Raceway, and the Richmond Raceway are the three short tracks that NASCAR currently boasts of.
The plan for the Auto Club Speedway is to convert the currently 2-mile track into a half-mile track. They plan to get the work started after the 2021 race there and be done before the 2022 season.
NASCAR is calling the new development “Next Gen in California”. As per the remodeling plans, they wish to get the track ready before the ‘Next Gen’ car is introduced in 2022.
“This is our first step towards creating a state-of-the-art facility that would deliver the intense short-track racing our fans love. An intimate viewing experience, and upgraded suites and hospitality areas that would position Auto Club Speedway among the top entertainment venues in the market,” said Craig Neeb, NASCAR’s Executive Vice President, Chief innovation officer.
It is about competing in the market. One of the main reasons for choosing a track like the Auto Club Speedway for redevelopment is that NASCAR would not want to let go of the Los Angeles buzz.
Races around the LA area always attract celebrities and the who’s who of LA and Hollywood. Many also believed in recent times that the Auto Club Speedway needed a revamp.
NASCAR needed to compete with the LA football stadium and other sports facilities around the area as it ran the risk of losing fans to them.
Another reason for choosing Auto Club and not other tracks is that NASCAR owns Auto Club Speedway. It also owns the Kansas Speedway and the Chicagoland Speedway, but there are multiple local problems as far as conducting events there is concerned.
Nevertheless, NASCAR hopes these new plans at Auto Club Speedway attract more fans and big interest to the venue and to the sport. One thing is for sure, short-track racing is now finally in the forefront.