NASCAR breaks ground on track at LA Memorial Coliseum

LOS ANGELES — The bulldozers are back at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. On Thursday, NASCAR broke ground on a temporary quarter-mile track that will host the second running of the Busch Light Clash at the famed venue Feb. 5.

Last year’s NASCAR debut in the heart of LA was a “wild success,” NASCAR spokesman Matt Humphrey told Spectrum News 1. “We had a lot of doubters when we first announced this event, but this place was packed last year. Seventy percent of the fans that bought tickets were first-time NASCAR ticket buyers, so it made perfect sense for us to come and do this again.”

On Thursday, the field that has hosted the University of Southern California Trojans football team for the last 99 seasons on a manicured patch of grass was being retooled as a temporary asphalt track with 9,200 cubic yards of recycled concrete, 6,800 cubic yards of asphalt paving and 1,400 feet of safety barriers for the Busch Light Clash.

Last year was the first time since 1956 that NASCAR kicked off its season not only inside a major city stadium but with a short quarter-mile track.

Unlike the two-mile track at Fontana, where 40 cars race at the same time, there could be upward of 23 cars on the asphalt at the Coliseum at the same time for the Clash. Because the track is so short, the cars will also reach a maximum speed of about 90 mph, compared with 200+ mph at Auto Club Speedway.

Open to all NASCAR Clash teams, the drivers will race the same seventh generation cup cars as last year: The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Toyota TRD Camry and Ford Mustang. On Feb. 4, NASCAR Cup Series drivers will race practice sessions, ending their first day with qualifying runs that will determine the lineups for heat races on Sunday that will culminate in a 150-lap main event.

In addition to the main race, NASCAR will host an interactive exhibit along the Coliseum’s Christmas Tree Lane. The rap group Cypress Hill is scheduled to perform. Tickets start at $65 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

“It shows the versatility of the building that we can do this,” Coliseum assistant general manager Kevin Daly said of a field, which will be converted into a racetrack in just one month and converted back into a football field just days after the NASCAR race .

The LA Memorial Coliseum first broke ground in 1921. In the decades since, the venue has primarily been used for USC football games, but it’s also hosted two Super Bowls, one World Series and the prior two Olympic Games that took place in LA. In 2028, it will be the site of the track and field events for the summer Olympic Games.

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