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NASCAR looking to convert Auto Club Speedway into short track

Auto Club Speedway
Auto Club Speedway (2019). Photo: Worldwide Copyright ©2019 Action Sports Photography, Inc

A report by Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi of the Athletic says NASCAR wants to alter the size of Auto Club Speedway

There are significant changes in the works to change a NASCAR track that is less than 25-years old, according to published reports. Auto Club Speedway is expected to be transformed from a two-mile D-shaped oval into a half-mile banked facility. It had the official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 20, 1997.

First reported by Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic, Auto Club Speedway will become the first west coast short track on the NASCAR circuit. The other three, at Richmond, where all three series will race this weekend, Bristol and Martinsville. North Wilkesboro Speedway was a 0.625-mile paved oval that was taken off the NASCAR calendar and subsequently closed in 1996. The North Carolina facility briefly opened in 2010 but closed permanently a year later.

The owner of the Fontana CA track, International Speedway Corporation, merged with NASCAR on Oct. 18, 2019. San Bernardino Country received plans on Tuesday to remodel most of the infrastructure, which would reduce the size of the property’s footprint.

SO WHAT’S NEXT?

If approved, Auto Club Speedway will have a unique design. The Athletic said part of the 11-degree banked frontstretch would be used driving into two high-banked turns like at Bristol. It would then cut through a large grassy area between the track and pit row. That is to reconfigured as well using similar banking on what would become the backstretch.

While no official plans are available to the public, another part of the changes would be the seating capacity. The long frontstretch grandstand has little need with the changes; however, the turns will have news seating areas constructed. Further, victory lane and the garage area would be outside the track. On the latter, where cars go after accidents or mechanical issues go during the race is not addressed.

The report says that ACS may not fall off the NASCAR calendar, and racing could still take place during construction, like Daytona and Phoenix. But this is a massive undertaking that could take up to three years to complete. Whether that is feasible is anyone’s guess.

The initial plans submitted are likely to have many revisions before and even during construction. Once they become public, many of the questions will hopefully be answered like, will the 2020 Auto Club Speedway race last February be the last for a few years?

Stay tuned.

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