NASCAR bet over $1 million to bring cars to the Coliseum

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Eric Garcetti first learned that NASCAR was hoping to open the year at the Coliseum a week before the Super Bowl, the mayor of Los Angeles didn’t take the idea.

“I was like, ‘You must be kidding me. Where? Like, outside the Colosseum?'” Garcetti told The Associated Press on Thursday after touring the iconic stadium. was going to be around the Colosseum. Now when you see it, you realize they pulled off a miracle.

The Colosseum on Sunday night will host the Busch Clash Light exhibit on a temporary quarter-mile track built on the USC soccer field. The idea seemed outrageous when NASCAR first launched the event, maybe even impossible.

The Clash has been held at Daytona International Speedway every year since its inception in 1979, a made-for-TV event seen as a tune-up for the Daytona 500 season-opener. But Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson The 30-year-old founder of NASCAR, is now the senior vice president of strategy and innovation, and he’s not afraid to break away from the same old way his family has always run the show.

The idea came with a high price; $1 million was originally budgeted for the project, but NASCAR ended up spending “significantly more” to stage the two-day event, said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s executive vice president and chief racing development officer.

“This has been a significant investment by NASCAR,” said Steve O’Donnell. “We made a big bet on it, but we think it’s the right thing to do for the industry. When it comes to investments, especially from our perspective, we’re going to be bold and aggressive if we think that’s a path to future growth.”

Activity begins Saturday with morning practice and an afternoon qualifying session on the shortest track on the NASCAR schedule. Sunday opens with heat races to set the stage as well as eliminations that will prevent 13 drivers from qualifying for the main event.

Defending Cup Series champion Kyle Larson is the only driver guaranteed to make the field of 23. The Clash is 150 laps, caution laps won’t count and Ice Cube will play through a mid-term break .

NASCAR is hoping to piggyback on the hype surrounding the Super Bowl, scheduled a week from Sunday at Sofi Stadium, less than 10 miles away. The hometown Rams will play for the NFL championship in a whirlwind week of sports for the city.

Los Angeles has continued to see high levels of COVID-19 infections and Garcetti recently came under scrutiny for not wearing a mask during the NFC title game. Under a Los Angeles County health ordinance, masks are mandatory at all times, with some exceptions, and Clash fans over the age of 5 will need to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test.

Garcetti noted that the Colosseum will be used for the men’s World Cup tournament in 2026, and that the famous facility will be the first to host three Summer Olympics when the Games are held in Los Angeles in 2028.

“Los Angeles is the sports capital of the world, and it really feels like that this week. We can (host) NASCAR on a Sunday and have the Super Bowl the following Sunday, and still have the NBA and the NHL going,” said Garcetti: “We are preparing for what will truly be a golden decade.”


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