NASCAR unlikely to return to Southern California in 2025: report

Southern California fans of the most popular professional auto-racing organization in the U.S. may have to wait another year before it returns to the Southland.

According to a report from The Athletic this week, NASCAR is unlikely to return to Southern California in the upcoming 2025 season as the status on the construction on the previous stock car mainstay in the region remains in question.

The Auto Club Speedway, located just outside of Fontana in unincorporated San Bernardino County, last hosted a NASCAR Cup Series race in February 2023, when Kyle Busch won the Pala Casino 400. After that race, construction commenced to turn the track from a two-mile raceway into a short track, though updates on the project have been radio silent in the last year.

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Reporting from the Los Angeles Times in February, just before the start of the current Cup Series season, indicated that officials still planned on constructing the short track in the Inland Empire, but the lack of a firm timeline leaves the future of Southern California racing up in the air.

“I would say that we are still planning on building a short track in Fontana,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR president, according to the Times. “What the timing of that is, I don’t know. This isn’t the best time to be building based on inflation, the cost of capital, etc. But our intention is to continue to be in the Southern California market.”

That intention likely won’t come to fruition until 2026 at the earliest, according to The Athletic.

FILE - Cars race around the track as downtown Los Angeles is seen in the background during the Busch Light Clash NASCAR exhibition auto race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles. NASCAR returns to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a third consecutive year for the exhibition Clash and the immediate future of racing in Southern California is at stake. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

NASCAR had just one race in Southern California on the 2024 schedule: The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, which is a pre-season exhibition on a short track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

While successful, the event is unlikely to return to the coliseum in 2025 as the three-year contract has been completed and NASCAR is exploring options in other cities to host the annual event, The Athletic reported.

Reports indicated that NASCAR had interest in building a short track inside of Dodger Stadium, or even using the race course designed for the Long Beach Grand Prix, but sources told The Athletic that those options aren’t viable for 2025.

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