If NASCAR has its way, Fontana's speedway will be undergoing big changes -- but will be getting a lot smaller.
NASCAR wants to convert the two-mile Auto Club Speedway into a short track, according to an article published in The Athletic.
On Sept. 8, NASCAR submitted site plans to San Bernardino County in a proposal that would involve remodeling much of the existing infrastructure while also "reducing the size of the property's footprint to free up land for other uses or an eventual sale," the Athletic said.
The layout would stay the same for the 2021 NASCAR race, which is scheduled for March 7, and then construction would begin to remake the facility. This would mark the first time that a large NASCAR oval would be modified into a smaller track.
Auto Club Speedway opened in 1997 in the unincorporated western county area of Fontana and has hosted NASCAR Cup Series races each year since then. The track has gained admirers for providing exciting, five-wide competition.
However, attendance has declined sharply in recent years, and some analysts have wondered how long the track (which is now owned by NASCAR) would continue to operate.
The facility is used for many purposes (including drag racing at Auto Club Dragway) throughout each year, although many events have been canceled recently because of the coronavirus pandemic. The speedway was used for graduation ceremonies for Fontana Unified School District seniors in June.
Auto Club Speedway officials have not yet commented on the proposed plans for the site. Additional details have not been released.
On the speedway's Facebook page, Norman Bauer commented that Roger Penske (the racing mogul who originally brought the speedway to Fontana) built the track for open wheel racing, and "that's what it's meant for." Bauer said he is a lifetime fan who has attended races each year, but "if you bulldoze the track," he "will never come again."
Jim McCafferty responded to Bauer's comment by saying: "I agree if this is true and goes to a 100 percent short track I’ll never go again. I hate short track racing."