WEEKEND NOTES AND FUN FACTS Southern California Welcomes Return of NASCAR: Labor Day weekend holds many traditions, one of which is racing. California Speedway is proud to welcome NASCAR to the "Finish Under the Lights" SONY HD 500. This race...
WEEKEND NOTES AND FUN FACTS
Southern California Welcomes Return of NASCAR: Labor Day weekend holds many traditions, one of which is racing. California Speedway is proud to welcome NASCAR to the "Finish Under the Lights" SONY HD 500. This race weekend marks the third time NASCAR's top two racing series have appeared in Southern California twice in one year in the 50-plus year history of the sport. California Speedway's grandstand capacity is 92,000 seats. In addition, a sold out infield of more than 1,800 RVs will be placed side-by-side throughout the weekend. Guests will also view the race from 63 Terrace Suites overlooking pit road and 28 luxury Skybox Suites above the main grandstands solidifying California Speedway as the West Coast's premier sports and entertainment venue. Here is a look at some other stadiums in California and the capacity for each:
Rose Bowl -- 91,136
Angel Stadium -- 45,050
Dodger Stadium -- 56,000
Qualcomm Stadium -- 71,000
SBC Park -- 63,146
Opportunity, California FanZone: The SONY HD 500 Labor Day weekend will mark the unveiling of the brand new Opportunity, California FanZone at California Speedway. The multi-million dollar renovation project began immediately after the Auto Club 500 in February and fans will have the distinct opportunity to enjoy everything it has to offer this upcoming Labor Day weekend. An outdoor caf0x00e9 labeled Apex by Wolfgang Puck will be serving world-class cuisine to race fans, allowing them to sample a taste of one of the world's foremost celebrity chefs. Impulse, a complete retail store, will provide race fans with an opportunity to purchase California Speedway gear while at the FanZone. A concert stage will grant fans the ability to witness spectacular musical performances, such as the Miller Lite Rock 'n Racing Concert Series, and other entertainment acts. Improved grass and shade features, a giant video wall, water accents and enhanced lounge areas are also some of the features that fans can experience for the first time at Opportunity, California FanZone during the NASCAR Labor Day weekend at California Speedway.
This Track is Packed: With more than 300 calendar days of track activity, there aren't too many "off" days at California Speedway. The facility remains busy with a variety of track rentals from driving schools to club events to test sessions. The speedway's road courses have benefited a number of local racing organizations from motorcycles to sports cars, giving them a premier facility to compete or test their skills. In addition, the speedway has been featured in a number of commercials, photo shoots and Hollywood movies -- Including NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience, Charlie's Angels and Herbie: Fully Loaded.
Economic Catalyst: California Speedway is one of the region's core economic assets. According to a study by Dr. John Husing, the entire economic impact of the speedway's events and daily operations in 2003 totaled $135.7 million, with approximately $84.7 million coming from a single NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series weekend. That number has grown to $220 million annually with two NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race weekends. An estimated $4.2 million in taxes (property, sales and transit occupancy) flows to area jurisdictions, mostly in San Bernardino County, each year as a result of California Speedway's various activities.
New MRN Affiliate: KLAC 570 AM out of Los Angeles, Calif. has recently signed on to become the second MRN affiliate in the Los Angeles radio area. AM 570 SPORTS joins San Bernardino's KTDD 1350 AM "The Toad" in the syndication of MRN radio throughout Southern California. Fans can bring their radios with earphones to the speedway this Labor Day weekend and listen to MRN for live NASCAR play-by-play.
Millions on the Line: There will be more than $7.7 million on the line during the upcoming NASCAR weekend. The NEXTEL Cup series purse is $5,963,574, while the Busch Series event offers a purse of $1,572,427.
Tenth Season of Racing: California Speedway opened its doors in June of 1997 with the Inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series California 500 Presented by NAPA and more than 90,000 guests watched Jeff Gordon win the 500-mile race. Since 1997, the Speedway has hosted 12 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series events, 12 NASCAR Busch Series races, 10 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, 10 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series races, three IROC races, four AMA Superbike double-header events, three Grand American Rolex Sports Car Series events, three Grand-Am Cup Series races, three IRL IndyCar Series events, two IRL Menards Infiniti Pro Series races, six CART Champ Car races and five Dayton Indy Lights Series races. Also, Auto Club Dragway is working on its sixth year of the NHRA Street Legal Drag Racing Program, third season of the Automobile Club of Southern California Junior Dragsters, third season of the Summit Drag Racing Series and will host the penultimate round of the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series in September for the second time.
Gatorade Victory Lane: The SONY HD 500 race weekend will once again feature Gatorade Victory Lane in front of the speedway's grandstands. California Speedway's Victory Lane is located on the tri-oval grass, adjacent to pit road and the start/finish line. The footprint includes approximately 2,800 square feet of checkerboard floor, including parts of the original victory lane/pre-race square location and stretching towards Turn 1. The Gatorade Victory Lane features two entrances: one for the car, team and sponsors and another for media. The media entrance is at the east end of victory lane minimizing safety concerns that were present with the original victory lane.
SONY HD 500 Pre-Race Ceremonies: Fly Over for the 250-lap race will be conducted by two F-117 Nighthawks out of USAF Plant 42 out of Palmdale, Calif. Jason Lee, star of the hit NBC program "My Name is Earl," will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver. Sony platinum recording artist Kelly Clarkson will give the command to "Start Your Engines" as Honorary Grand Marshal. Mya is slated to perform the National Anthem, and actress Marcia Cross will be an honorary race official. Additional celebrities and dignitaries are also expected to be a part of Sunday's pre-race, including the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Jeff Gordon Holds Many California Speedway Records: Four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Champion Jeff Gordon holds numerous California Speedway records, many of which are race leading records. Gordon holds the record for leading the most laps, 413, and most times, 31, in his career in the NEXTEL Cup Series at California Speedway. He also holds the record for leading the most times during a single race, 9 times in 1999. In addition, Jeff Gordon is the only driver to visit California Speedway's Gatorade Victory Lane more than one time in the NEXTEL Cup Series. In fact, he has visited three times, 1997, 1998, and 2004. With his victory in 2004 he also set the record for greatest margin of victory of 12.871 seconds over Jimmie Johnson.
Miles/Races: Michael Waltrip has logged more miles than any other driver around California Speedway's two-mile oval. Waltrip has competed in 24 races in nine years at the speedway, including NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series. He has completed 7,988 miles; 4,984 in NEXTEL Cup, 2,692 in the Busch Series and 312 in the Truck Series. Ken Schrader has competed in 18 races here as well. Schrader has run all twelve Cup races, along with seven West Series races and two Craftsman Truck Series events here.
Joining an Elite Group: Sterling Marlin is scheduled to make his 700th career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start at California Speedway during the SONY HD 500. He will join an exclusive group that includes NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Dave Marcis, Ricky Rudd, Terry Labonte, Darrell Waltrip, Kyle Petty, Bill Elliott, Bobby Allison, Rusty Wallace and Buddy Baker.
A NASCAR Sweep: Kevin Harvick, Mike Wallace, Ron Hornaday, and Brendan Gaughan are the only drivers to compete in at least one of every NASCAR-sanctioned event at California Speedway. The quartet has competed in the NEXTEL Cup Series, Busch Series, Craftsman Truck Series, and West Series events at one time or another over the previous nine years.
Double Duty: Several NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series regulars are planning on running double duty at California Speedway in the Ameriquest 300 event on September 2 and the SONY HD 500 on September 3. Cup regulars expected to compete in the 150-lap Busch Series event include Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Robby Gordon, David Green, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson, Tony Stewart, Kenny Wallace, Scott Wimmer and J.J. Yeley.
Special Paint Schemes: A handful of teams will be making the Labor Day race weekend at California Speedway a little more electrifying when they trade in their normal racecar paint schemes for special ones. NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series teams sporting special paint schemes include McMurray's No. 26 Smirnoff Ice Ford, Elliott's No. 00 Burger King Chevrolet, Robby Gordon's No. 7 World Series of Poker Chevrolet, Bill Lester's No. 23 Waste Management Dodge, Green's No. 66 According to Jim Chevrolet and Kevin Lepage's No. 49 LoansDepot.com Chevrolet.
Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup is Nearly On: When the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads out West for the "Finish Under the Lights" SONY HD 500, there will be only one attempt left at securing a position in the Chase, set to begin September 17. California Speedway's 250-lap, 500-mile event will be a test of endurance and stamina for those drivers reaching to be in the top-10, or within 400 points of the points leader. Here's a look at those in the chase, and those reaching to get it and their track record at California Speedway (as of August 28th):