It’s been almost two years since NASCAR revealed plans to convert the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway into a half-mile short track.
Three weeks ago, after the successful running of the Busch Clash at the L.A. Coliseum, Cup driver Kyle Busch said there was “no question, after what we saw today” that Auto Club would be “cut up.”
Now, on the eve of the sport’s return to Fontana for the first time since March 1, 2020, when those short track plans could be a reality aren’t any clearer.
Dave Allen, the president of Auto Club Speedway, was asked about the status of the track conversion on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” Friday. Allen said a “timetable has not been established as of yet.”
“We had to pump the brakes a little bit with where we were going,” Allen said. “We definitely are looking at the potential of changing the facility to a half-mile track. A lot of fans have said they want to see more short track racing. So that’s what we’ve been looking at. The timetable has not been established as of yet. I hope as we get through the year, a little further, we’ll have a little bit more direction on that, but the excitement within the company to continue to strategize and to develop what that looks like moving forward is very, very strong.”
NASCAR’s intent to convert the track was first reported by The Athletic on Sept. 8, 2020. That was days after NASCAR submitted plans for the renovation to San Bernardino County. At the time, The Athletic reported the conversion could have been completed by 2023 season.
The plans the short track include long frontstretches like Martinsville Speedway and high banked corners like Bristol Motor Speedway.
NASCAR President Steve Phelps addressed the status of Auto Club last November during the championship weekend.
“There are a lot of uphill battles we have from a timing perspective,” Phelps said. “We are hopeful, right? Part of it has to do with there’s going to be a conversion of the two-mile, right? What we know as the two-mile racetrack where we’re going to race next year, we’re selling some land around that. There are entitlements to it that no one really cares about, but we’ve got to make sure those things get done so we then can take the next steps to build that short track.”
Auto Club Speedway first opened in 1997 under the ownership of Roger Penske, before it was acquired by International Speedway Corp. in 1999. It will host its 32nd NASCAR Cup event this Sunday (3:30 p.m. ET on Fox).