Today was the first day that media and some public were able to make their way into the transformed Coliseum. A stadium that has held the Olympics, is the home to the USC Trojans, and that has seen rallycross, and countless motocross events, is now host to NASCAR.
The track is a feat of engineering as the asphalt track sits atop of the field and track that SC’s athletes compete on. Built atop what seems like feet of earth, the 670 horsepower cars will battle their way through this 400 meter oval with banked corners.
Designed in conjunction with iRacing, the racing simulator that both Pro and amateur drivers use, they helped with the layout of the track and even brought out their scanning tools to bring this unique creation to life. Racing at the Coliseum opens up a new era for both the southland and for NASCAR.
NASCAR was once a staple of the famed Riverside International Raceway, long removed since that track’s demise, it is more synonymous with California’s Autoclub Speedway in Fontana, which the series will visit in a few weeks. But this, at the Coliseum, is more of an event as famed racer Tony Stewart described. It is an event for both Los Angeles and for the debut of the new car.
NASCAR is looking to attract new fans and to make a permanent presence in the Southern California scene, and what better way than to make a track right in the middle of the nation’s second-largest city.
A majority of the people attending this weekend will be new to the sport. NASCAR hopes that it can show these people what NASCAR has to offer.
The cars, that will be racing around this skewed oval, are the Next-Gen variants, or “the biggest change to NASCAR” since the change from big cars to smaller bodied cars said Ford Performance Next-Gen lead engineer, Richard Johns.
These new cars with their modernized suspension, aerodynamics, transmissions, and bodies look more like their street-driven variant than decades of NASCAR iterations. People can actually feel that these cars are a Mustang, Camaro, or Camry other than just decals on a silhouette body. These new cars advance NASCAR into a series whose vehicles are more akin to sports car GT cars—something that no one would have ever compared NASCAR to just a year ago.
The Olympic cauldron is lit. We’re about to see gladiators clash.
Tomorrow, the silence goes away. The engines fire up and the cars compete in practice rounds and in qualifying heats to set the grid for Sunday’s race. The roar of NASCAR racing engines has come to LA, may it never leave.