Auto Club Speedway

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Auto Club Speedway
ACSinfield.jpg
The infield at the speedway.
Location 9300 Cherry Avenue
Fontana, California 92335
Time zone GMT-8
Capacity 84,000 (SEC filings November 2010)
Owner International Speedway Corporation
Operator International Speedway Corporation
Broke ground 1995
Opened 1997
Construction cost $100 million US dollars
Architect Paxton Waters Architecture
Penske Motorsports, Inc.
Former names California Speedway (1997–2007)
Major events NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Auto Club 400
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Treatmyclot.com 300
AMA Superbike
Suzuki Superbike Challenge
Verizon IndyCar Series
MAVTV 500
D-shaped oval
Surface Asphalt
Length 2.0 mi (3.22 km)
Turns 4
Banking Turns: 14 degrees
Frontstretch: 11 degrees
Backstretch: 3 degrees
Lap record 241.428 miles per hour (Gil de Ferran, Penske Racing, October 28, 2000, CART)
Interior Test Circuit
Surface Asphalt
Length 1.45 mi (2.3 km)
Turns 13
Sports Car Course
Surface Asphalt
Length 2.8 mi (4.5 km)
Turns 21
Motorcycle Course
Surface Asphalt
Length 2.36 mi (3.79 km)
Turns 21
Drag strip
Surface Asphalt
Length 1/4 mi (0.40 km)

Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway)[1] is a two-mile (3 km), low-banked, D-shaped oval superspeedway in Fontana, California which has hosted NASCAR racing annually since 1997. It is also used for open wheel racing events. The racetrack is located near the former locations of Ontario Motor Speedway and Riverside International Raceway. The track is owned and operated by International Speedway Corporation and is the only track owned by ISC to have naming rights sold. The speedway is served by the nearby Interstate 10 and Interstate 15 freeways as well as a Metrolink station located behind the backstretch.

Construction of the track, on the site of the former Kaiser Steel Mill, began in 1995 and was completed in late 1996. The speedway has a grandstand capacity of 68,000 and 28 skyboxes. In 2006, a fanzone was added behind the main grandstand. Lights were added to the speedway in 2004 with the addition of a second annual NASCAR weekend. Since 2011, the track has hosted only one NASCAR weekend.

INDYCAR returned to the track in 2012 with its season finale race (a 500 mile night race); the league previously ran a 400 mile race from 2002–2005.

Track history[edit]

Early history and construction[edit]

Main Grandstand From Pit Road at Auto Club Speedway

On April 20, 1994, Roger Penske and Kaiser announced the construction of a racetrack on the site of the abandoned Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, CA. A day after the announcement CART announced it would hold an annual race at the speedway. Three months later NASCAR President Bill France, Jr. agreed to sanction Winston Cup Series races at the speedway upon completion, marking the first time NASCAR has made a commitment to run a race at a track that had yet to be built.[2] Community meetings were held to discuss issues related to the construction of the track and the local effects of events held. The local community largely supported construction of the speedway citing potentially increased land values and rejuvenation of the community. In April 1995, after having toured the sister track Michigan International Speedway, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project.[3] The California Environmental Protection Agency gave Penske permission to begin construction after Kaiser agreed to pay $6 million to remove hazardous waste from the site. Construction on the site began on November 22, 1995 with the demolition of the Kaiser Steel Mill.[2] The 100-foot water tower, a landmark of the Kaiser property, was preserved in the center of the track to be used as a scoreboard. 3,000 cubic yards (2,300 m3) of contaminated dirt was removed and transported to a toxic waste landfill. To prevent remaining impurities from rising to the surface, a cap of non-porous polyethylene was put down and covered with 2 feet (0.61 m) of clean soil.[3] Construction of the track was completed in late 1996.[2]

On January 10, 1997 Marlboro Team Penske’s driver Paul Tracy became the first driver to test on the new speedway. NASCAR held its first open test session on at the track from May 5–7. The official opening and ribbon cutting ceremony was held on June 20, 1997 with the first race, a NASCAR West Series race, being held the next day.[2]

Tire Issues[edit]

In 2014, many drivers had tire problems due to excessive tire wear. The track has never been repaved since its construction.

California Speedway[edit]

The track was named the California Speedway from the time it was built through February 21, 2008 when the Southern California Automobile Club (Auto Club) purchased the naming rights in a 10-year deal. Thus creating Auto Club Speedway.

Expansion and additions[edit]

With early success following the opening of the track, the speedway began to expand reserved grandstand seating along the front stretch with an additional 15,777 seats. In May 1999, an additional 28 skyboxes were added to the top of the main grandstand. In 2001 the Auto Club Dragway, a 1/4 mile dragstrip, was built outside of the backstretch of the main speedway. That same year, the infield of the speedway was reconfigured to hold a multipurpose road course. On April 24, 2003 The San Bernardino County Planning Commission approved the changing of the speedway’s conditional use permit to allow the installation of lights around the track. Later that year NASCAR announced a second annual Sprint Cup Series race at the track for the 2004 season, with the second race being run “under the lights”.[4] NASCAR ran two weekends of racing annually until the 2011 season, when the track returned to a single annual race weekend.[5]

In 2006, the speedway's midway, located behind the main grandstand, was overhauled. The new midway, called Discover IE FanZone, includes the addition of Apex (a Wolfgang Puck restaurant), additional shade and lounge areas, a new retail store and an entertainment stage.[6]

In March 2014, Las Vegas based company Exotics Racing expanded to California by opening a new 1.2 mile road course at the Auto Club Speedway.

Configurations[edit]

Attendance problems[edit]

Upon the addition of a second NASCAR weekend at the track in 2004, attendance at the races dropped off dramatically, by as much as 20,000. With such a large attendance swing, drivers and media began to doubt if the track deserved two dates, even if the track was near Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest media market.[7] Weather also became a concern with either extremely hot days or with rain threatening the races. All of this factored into NASCAR's decision to remove a second race from the track with the realignment of the 2011 NASCAR schedule. Former track owner Roger Penske said the track may be located in a one-race market. Track president Gillian Zucker cited bad weather windows and fans having other entertainment options as reasons for the attendance decline.[8]

Effective in the 2014 racing season, the grandstand capacity was reduced from 92,000 to 68,000. This was accomplished by removing approximately 12,000 seats near Turn 1 and installing a hospitality area and a digital display showing speeds along the straightaway.[9] In addition, seats were further reduced as a result of modifying average seat width from 18 inches to 23 inches. The capacity quoted does not include luxury boxes and infield seating, which when added up reaches a capacity of approximately 100,000.[10]

Name change[edit]

On February 21, 2008, the Automobile Club of Southern California (ACSC) became the title sponsor of the raceway, making Auto Club Speedway the track's official name. The naming rights deal will last for ten years and is worth an estimated $50 to $75 million. In addition to naming rights, the ACSC will have use of the facility for road tests for Westways Magazine and other consumer tests. The money will be used for capital improvements to the track.[1]

In pop culture[edit]

The facility is often used for filming television shows, commercials and films. In 2000, portions of Charlie's Angels were filmed at the speedway,[11] and in 2004, portions of Herbie: Fully Loaded were filmed there.[12] In 2007, The Bucket List saw Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman drive a vintage Shelby Mustang and Dodge Challenger around the 2-mile (3.2 km) speedway.[13]

A parody of the track was used in the 2006 Pixar film Cars. It is the venue for the Piston Cup tiebreaker race between the movie's main character Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson), retiring veteran Strip "The King" Weathers (voiced by Richard Petty) and perennial runner-up Chick Hicks (voiced by Michael Keaton). The race is held at the Los Angeles International Speedway, which is a conglomeration of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Arroyo Seco in Pasadena where the Rose Bowl is located, as well as the Auto Club Speedway.

Fatalities[edit]

During the 1999 Marlboro 500 CART race, Canadian driver Greg Moore died in a crash along the backstretch of the track. It was determined that after sliding along the infield grass, Moore's car hit the edge of oncoming pavement, which caused the car to flip into a concrete retaining wall. The incident prompted the track owners, ISC, to pave the backstretch of both Auto Club Speedway and its sister track Michigan International Speedway in an attempt to prevent a similar accident. Shortly after the crash, CART mandated the use of a head-and-neck restraint system on all ovals. The rule eventually became mandatory on all tracks.[14][15]

On April 5, 2002, Ricky Lundgren was killed in a qualifying session for a motorcycle race.[16]

On August 7, 2004 a motorcycle rider crashed and died during an open track event. John Barr, a police officer from San Diego California was the driver that died in the crash.[17]

On June 2, 2005, two men died while participating in an event sponsored by the San Diego Chapter of the Ferrari Owners Club.[18]

On October 15, 2010, a 24-year old woman died while participating in a driving school at the track. The woman was driving a replica Indycar as part of the Mario Andretti Racing Experience when she lost control and hit the inside wall of the track.[19]

Racing events[edit]

Current races[edit]

Former races[edit]

Other events[edit]

  • Red, White & Cruise  — A July 4 festival consisting of a car show, various family-friendly entertainment and a fireworks show.
  • Epicenter 2010 at the speedway's midway
  • Cardenas Festival —The annual Cardenas Festival is held in the parking lot. This is a festival where all the company's that sell food at the grocery store Cardenas give out free samples of new or upcoming food. There is also performances from many artists.

Track records[edit]

The closed-course practice and qualifying one-lap records Arie Luyendyk had set in the run-up to the 1996 Indy 500 at 239.260 mph (385.052 km/h) and 237.498 mph (382.216 km/h) respectively were improved by Maurício Gugelmin on September 27, 1997. He was clocked at 238.869 mph (384.422 km/h) and 237.498 mph (382.216 km/h) respectively.[20]

After Juan Pablo Montoya had missed Gugelmin's unofficial record in practice,[21] Gil de Ferran set a new official one-lap record at 237.977 mph (382.987 km/h) during CART qualifying on October 28, 2000.[22] There is a discrepancy in average speed recognised because CART did not use the commonly recognised 2.000 miles (3.219 km) distance used by NASCAR and INDYCAR, but measured the track as 2.029 miles (3.265 km). Under CART measurements, the speed was listed as 241.428 miles per hour (388.541 km/h). As of March 2012, this is the fastest lap speed ever recorded at an official race meeting and the fastest ever lap on a closed racing circuit.[23] The 2003 Indycar race was the fastest circuit race ever in motorsport history, with an average speed of 207.151 mph (333.377 km/h) over 400 miles (640 km), topping the previous record average of 195.165 mph (314.088 km/h) over 500 miles (800 km), which was set by the final CART race held in Fontana the preceding year (again, the time was adjusted to reflect the discrepancy between the CART's measured distance and the recognised distance).[24]

Record Year Date Driver Time Speed/Avg. Speed
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Qualifying (one lap) 2005 February 26 Kyle Busch 38.248 188.245 mph (302.951 km/h)
Race (500 miles) 1997 June 27 Jeff Gordon 3:13:32 155.012 mph (249.468 km/h)
Race (400 miles) 2011 March 27 Kevin Harvick 2:39:06 150.849 mph (242.768 km/h)
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Qualifying (one lap) 2005 September 3 Tony Stewart 38.722 185.941 mph (299.243 km/h)
Race (300 miles) 2001 April 28 Hank Parker, Jr. 1:55:25 155.957 mph (250.988 km/h)
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Qualifying (one lap) 2006 February 24 David Reutimann 40.228 178.980 mph (288.040 km/h)
Race (200 miles) 2003 September 20 Ted Musgrave 1:22:14 145.926 mph (234.845 km/h)
NASCAR West Series
Qualifying (one lap) 2001 April 28 Mark Reed 39.649 181.593 mph (292.246 km/h)
Race (200 miles) 2001 April 28 Brendan Gaughan 1:28:47 152.316 mph (245.129 km/h)
CART
Qualifying (one lap - 2.000 mi) 2000 October 28 Gil de Ferran 30.255 237.977 mph (382.987 km/h)
Race (500 miles) 2002 November 3 Jimmy Vasser 2:33:42 195.165 mph (314.088 km/h)
INDYCAR
Qualifying (one lap) 2003 September 20 Helio Castroneves 31.752 226.757 mph (364.930 km/h)
Race (400 miles) 2003 September 21 Sam Hornish, Jr. 1:55:51 207.151 mph (333.377 km/h)
Race (500 miles) 2014 August 30 Tony Kanaan 2:32:58.4659 196.111 mph (315.610 km/h)
Source:[25]

NOTE: Because of CART's discrepancy in calculating laps at the circuit (2.029 miles versus 2.000 miles), for consistency purposes, the one lap and 500-mile records are calculated with the standard 2.000 mile distance for average speed purposes.


References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "California Speedway to change name UPDATE". jayski.com. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d Eisenberg, Jeff (2007). "Looking Back: Key dates in the history of California Speedway". The Press Enterprise. Retrieved September 13, 2010. [dead link]
  3. ^ a b Glick, Shav (November 27, 1995). "New Track Is a Steel California Speedway Will Be Built on Site of Old Fontana Mill". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  4. ^ Jensen, Tom (August 7, 2010). "California Speedway". Racingconnection.com. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  5. ^ "NASCAR — CUP: Auto Club Loses Chase Date — SPEED.com". Nascar.speedtv.com. August 7, 2010. Archived from the original on August 18, 2010. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  6. ^ "2006 Racing Season Concludes, 2007 Just Around the Corner". Autoclubspeedway.com. October 5, 2006. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  7. ^ Gluck, Jeff (February 21, 2009). "Lack of attendance remains No. 1 concern at Auto Club Speedway". SceneDaily.com. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  8. ^ Gluck, Jeff (August 8, 2010). "Weather, scheduling blamed for attendance woes, loss of Cup races at Atlanta, California". SceneDaily.com. Retrieved September 14, 2010. 
  9. ^ Peltz, Jim (March 21, 2014). "Auto Club Speedway slashes grandstand seating by 26% to 68,000". Los Angeles Times. 
  10. ^ http://www.dailynews.com/sports/20140323/auto-club-speedway-wins-its-race-long-before-kyle-busch-did-in-auto-club-400
  11. ^ "Charlie's Angels Filming Locations — part 3". Seeing-stars.com. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  12. ^ "Trivia for Herbie Fully Loaded". imdb.com. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Filming Locations For The Bucket List". IMDB.com. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Moore, 24, killed in horrifying CART crash". ESPN. November 3, 1999. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 
  15. ^ "Greg Moore". Retrieved November 13, 2010. [dead link]
  16. ^ Henderson, Martin (April 6, 2002). "Motorcyclist Dies at California Speedway". Los Angeles Times. 
  17. ^ http://www.roadracingworld.com/news/san-diego-policeman-dies-in-crash-during-track-ride-day-at-california-speedway/
  18. ^ http://www.utsandiego.com/sports/20050603-1041-ca-speedwaydeaths.html
  19. ^ "LA woman killed in crash during racing class at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana". October 17, 2010. Archived from the original on October 23, 2010. Retrieved November 13, 2010. 
  20. ^ Glick, Shav (September 28, 1997). "At Marlboro 500, Change Is Almost as Quick as the Cars". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Montoya threatens all-time record in practice". Autosport.com. October 28, 2000. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. 
  22. ^ "De Ferran wins pole, sets record". Las Vegas Sun. October 28, 2000. Archived from the original on November 10, 2013. 
  23. ^ Webster, George. "PRN — Performance Racing News — Who holds the world’s closed course record? A.J. Foyt | PRN — Performance Racing News". Prnmag.com. Retrieved February 22, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Fastest race goes to Hornish". Chicago Tribune. September 22, 2003. Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. 
  25. ^ "Race Results at Auto Club Speedway". racing-reference.info. Retrieved September 13, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°05′19″N 117°30′00″W / 34.08858°N 117.50000°W / 34.08858; -117.50000