With demolition of Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, underway, NASCAR president Steve Phelps has reiterated the organization’s plans to build a short track to replace it, although the specifics remain to be determined.
“What the timing of that is, I don’t know,” Phelps said at Phoenix Raceway. “This isn’t the best time to be building based on inflation, the cost of capital, etc. But our intention is to continue to be in the Southern California market.
“For 2024, we will be at the (L.A.) Coliseum. It is our intention to build a short track in the Inland Empire.”
Auto Club Speedway, originally known as California Speedway, hosted its first NASCAR Cup Series race in 1997, also hosting a round of the CART IndyCar series that year. The two-mile oval became a favorite of NASCAR drivers for its high speed and characteristics such as the bumps down the backstretch and the ability to use multiple lanes for passing.
All three NASCAR national series have competed in Fontana. It has also hosted NASCAR K&N Pro Series West (now ARCA) races.
NASCAR confirmed plans in late 2020 to convert the track into a half-mile short track. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NASCAR did not race at the speedway in 2021, and until the demolition recently started, progress for its future plans has been slow-moving.
The final NASCAR race on the two-mile surface occurred in the spring. NASCAR also completed a sale of 433 acres of land surrounding the facility earlier this year.
“It’s going to be a short track, most likely be a half-mile racetrack,” Phelps said. “We’ve got renderings, we’ve got what it looks like. We are ready to go when the time is right.”