NASCAR fans often spend their time on social media calling for stock car racing's governing body to hold more events on "short tracks" less than one mile in length. Now another may be joining the fold. Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, could soon undergo massive changes to become a short track.
Jeff Gluck of The Athletic first broke the news, and he provided further details about the massive change. Auto Club Speedway currently sits at two miles in length, only one of two in the Cup Series. However, the proposed plans would shorten it to only a half-mile. There are currently only three short tracks in the Cup Series, but the significant changes to the Auto Club Speedway would add another to the list.
"We are still very early in the process, but we are excited about what this ambitious project could mean for our loyal fans in Southern California," said Craig Neeb, NASCAR executive vice president, and chief innovation officer, to The Athletic. "This is our first step towards creating a state-of-the-art facility that would deliver the intense short-track racing our fans love, an intimate viewing experience and upgraded suites and hospitality areas that would position Auto Club Speedway among the top entertainment venues in the market."
According to Gluck and Jordan Bianchi, the current plans are dubbed "Next Gen in California" and would have a significant area on the area. The proposed renovations would reduce the size of the "property's footprint" and would free up portions of the land. NASCAR could use the land for something else or could sell it — although there are currently no plans for the extra space.
According to the proposed plans, the renovated Auto Club Speedway would feature long straightaways similar to Martinsville Speedway. However, the corners would be high and banked like the fan-favorite Bristol track. New seating areas would be constructed in the turns to make up for the removal of the current grandstands but seating capacity would still be reduced.
With the reported changes, there are questions about the ongoing schedule. Fans want to know if Auto Club Speedway would temporarily leave the Cup Series schedule during the proposed construction. Gluck reports that this is not an issue and that races could still take place, much like they did during renovations to Phoenix Raceway and Daytona International Speedway. Additionally, he says that the changes could be completed in time for the 2023 season, provided the work begins next year.