Remember the scene in Pixar’s animated movie Cars in which Lightning McQueen and his competitors raced around a track that looked a lot like the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Pasadena? Well, NASCAR has announced that it will open its 2022 racing season by staging “The Clash at the Coliseum.”
“This season-opening exhibition will take place on February 6, 2022 and become the first NASCAR race held inside the iconic Los Angeles stadium since it opened in 1923,” NASCAR said in its announcement.
“The Clash at the Coliseum will be a signature event as a part of the venue’s centennial celebration and mark the first time NASCAR’s prelude to the Daytona 500 will take place somewhere other than Daytona International Speedway, an icon in its own right that will host the regular-season opener two weeks later.”
“Los Angeles is synonymous with major sports and entertainment events, so we seized an innovative opportunity to showcase NASCAR at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum,” NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation Ben Kennedy is quoted.“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to take center stage in this market as we get our 2022 season underway.”
Kennedy is a great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.
For the LA/Pasadena race, a quarter-mile asphalt short track will be created within the stadium. The race will mark the debut of NASCAR’s Next Gen racing cars.
The shortest track on the NASCAR schedule in recent years has been Bristol Motor Speedway, which measures slightly more than a half-mile in length, or about twice the length of the proposed Los Angeles Coliseum oval. The NASCAR racers are at Bristol, Tennessee, this weekend for the next round in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
NASCAR used to race on quarter-mile tracks, but the most recent to be used was Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where the series raced from 1958 through 1971.
Auto races have been held in other major-city stadiums, including Soldier Field in Chicago. The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum has been the site of the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984 and is scheduled to host again in 2028. It also is the home field for the University of Southern California and UCLA football teams and was home to the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team from 1958-1960.