Yesterday, the NASCAR Cup Series raced at Auto Club Speedway’s two-mile oval in Southern California for the final time. The facility is being reconfigured into a short track, with the current pit road becoming the new back straight. The land previously occupied by the two-mile speedway has been sold off to real estate developers for a $544 million, according to Sports Business Journal. The track might not be entirely gone when NASCAR returns in 2025, but it will produce drastically different racing.
Today, I’m asking you which racing circuit shouldn’t have been closed. The list of venues that no longer host organized races is countless. From barely-used Formula 1 circuits to shuttered short tracks in the American South, the sport has nearly abandoned more locations than Blockbuster.
My pick has to be Auto Club Speedway’s now-dead two-mile oval. The Fontana, California facility was built by Penske Motorsports and opened in 1997. The speedway continued Southern California’s lengthy legacy in IndyCar, stretching back to when the Los Angeles Motordrome board track opened in 1910. I’ll always associate the speedway with its early years hosting events CART. Canadian driver Greg Moore tragically died in a crash during the 1999 race there. In 2000, Brazilian driver Gil de Ferran set a single-lap qualifying world record with an average speed of 241.428 mph.
2000 CART Fontana - Gil de Ferran’s Closed Course Record
IndyCar’s initial run at Fontana ended in 2005 but returned in 2012 for a four-year stint. The speeds were still absurdly high, and passing was as abundant as always. However, the racing remained dangerously close, and the stands were also nearly empty. For better or worse, the era of massive speedways holding races for open-wheel cars is over.
What race tracks do you wish were still around? Let us know in the comments down below.
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