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California Speedway

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Title: California Speedway  
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California Speedway

Auto Club Speedway
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
Royal Purple 300
AMA Superbike
Suzuki Superbike Challenge
IZOD IndyCar Series
MAVTV 500 (2012)
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 241.426 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. 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 91,200 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. The IZOD Indycar Series returned to the track in 2012 with the season finale race (a 500 mile night race); it ran a 400 mile race from 2002–05 at the track.

Track history

Early history and construction

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]

California Speedway

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

Expansion and additions

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]


Attendance problems

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]

Name change

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 also 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

The facility is often used for filming television shows, commercials and films. In 2000, portions of Charlie's Angels were filmed at the speedway,[9] and in 2004, portions of Herbie: Fully Loaded were filmed there.[10] 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.[11]


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.[12][13]

On April 5, 2002, Ricky Lundgren was killed in a qualifying session for a motorcycle race.[14]

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.[15]

On June 2, 2005, two men died while participating in an event sponsored by the San Diego Chapter of the Ferrari Owners Club.[16]

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.[17]

Racing events

Current races

Former races

Other events

  • 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

Track records

On October 28, 2000, during CART qualifying, Gil de Ferran set the track record for fastest lap at 241.426 mph (388.537 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.[18] 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).

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)
Qualifying (one lap) 2000 October 28 Gil de Ferran 29.823 241.426 mph (388.537 km/h)
Race (500 miles) 2002 November 3 Jimmy Vasser 2:33:42 197.995 mph (318.642 km/h)
IndyCar Series
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) 2012 September 15 Ed Carpenter 2:57:34 168.939 mph (271.881 km/h)


External links

  • Auto Club Speedway Official Site
  • Auto Club Speedway Page – Local area information, track specs, mapping, news and more.
  • Jayski's Auto Club Speedway Page – Current and Past California Speedway News
  • Trackpedia guide to driving this track
  • Ballparks by Munsey & Suppes
  • Super High Resolution image from Windows Live Local

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

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