One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is that almost every suburb has the same street layout as the city itself. This makes it easy to get from A to B without having to think much about it. If you ever get lost, a simple Google Maps search will take you to the right path in no time.
Now, imagine trying to use this same logic when traveling to Fontana, a small town in California’s countryside. As it turns out, the town limits extend for just a little over 3 miles, and the street names don’t appear to have been chosen at random either. If you follow the numerical list from north to south, you’ll eventually end up at a dead end, and you’ll have to find your way back using landmarks or asking for directions. This, my friends, is where our quest for knowledge begins:
Where Do I Start?
Let’s start from the beginning: what is Fontana Speedway?
As the name suggests, the speedway is a racetrack located in Fontana, a small town in California’s vast Central Valley. Every year, the track plays host to one of the most exciting motorsport events in the country; the Corona 500, which is a part of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing series. The grandstands are usually packed to the rafters with fans waiting to catch a glimpse of their favorite drag racers. Thanks to the speedway’s proximity to Los Angeles, hundreds of Angelinos make the trek every week to catch a glimpse of the action, and thousands more follow it live on television. On social media, the #Fontana500 is often used as a hashtag to show off the excitement builds throughout the year.
The history of the speedway is rather interesting. The track was initially constructed in 1957, and that’s when it started attracting the attention of motorcycle enthusiasts. The following year, it became the centerpiece of a promotional tour for General Motors, who built a small electric motor that could be attached to a vehicle’s frame and used to help it go faster. The idea behind this innovation was to combat fuel shortages during the Vietnam War, which was in full swing at the time. Unfortunately, the war ended before the technology was fully implemented, and today the only vintage vehicles you’ll see on the track are those from the 1950s and ’60s, many of which are sponsored by large automobile companies.
What Kinds Of Cars Do They Have There?
Now, we need to determine how much our motorsport fanfare may distract us from our quest for knowledge. First of all, let’s explore the types of cars that may be seen at the track:
- Barber Coupes
As you may have guessed, the track hosts a variety of racing cars, most of which are modified from their stock state. In fact, the term “dragster” was first used to describe these types of car in the 1950s, and ever since then they’ve been a mainstay of the racing scene at Fontana Speedway. During the 2017 season, the track will stage its 200th anniversary celebration, so it seems like a good time to take a look at how the vehicles of today compare to those of the past. According to the track’s director of operations, John Schlegel, the following are the most popular types of cars at the track:
As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track. As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track. As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track. As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track. As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track. As the name suggests, a dragster is one of the most iconic vehicles at the track.
Now, it wouldn’t be a true celebration of the automobile if we didn’t examine their evolution over the years. While the vehicles of today are equipped with the most modern conveniences, such as onboard computers and touch screens, they still resemble the classic cars from decades ago. Most notably, the exterior of a dragster doesn’t change much from year to year, so it makes for an easy identification mark:
The term “mustang” comes from the famous Wild West show, “The Life And Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickok,” where the main character would often order drink refills in the shape of a horse head. Nevertheless, the name has become more generic over the years, and today it’s often used to identify any old car. The track’s grand marshals for the 2019 season are Dario Franchitti and Alex Zanardi, both of whom are notable for their involvement as drivers in the American auto industry. In 2019, the track will be celebrating its 50th anniversary, and to mark the event the cars will be decked out in special paint jobs and personalized numbers.
Unfortunately, not all of the cars at the Speedway are as fashionable as a John DeLorean or a Dario Franchitti. Some of them are quite the opposite, as witness the following:
If you grew up in the 1980s, then you may recognize the Barber as one of the more prominent automobile manufacturers of the time. Back then, the company was best known for its quirky three-wheeled vehicles, or “Barber carts,” but it also made a name for itself by modifying cars and trucks into elaborate dune buggy-like creations, which the company called “coupes.” This was also the inspiration for the Wild West show, where fans would often order drink refills in the shape of a four-wheeled barber shop. The company didn’t survive the crack epidemic of the 1980s and went bankrupt in 1991.
But even if you didn’t grow up in the ‘80s, you may know the company from its TV commercials, because, you know, those Barbers always seem to be popping up at the most inopportune moments:
Yes, in case you were wondering, the classic car you see in the above video is a Ferrari of some sort. While the name may not ring a bell, you may know the Italian car brand from its exquisite full-sized barge cruisers and lightweight Mondial models, which were popular in the 1960s and ‘70s. But just because a Ferrari is the most popular type of vehicle at the track doesn’t mean that all of them are bespoke creations: you’ll also see plenty of standard models there as well.
As stated above, the track is located in California’s Central Valley, which is famous for its fertile agricultural land. The area is known for its wine, walnuts, and peaches, and the track’s restaurants and bars serve up some of the finest produce you’ll find anywhere. In case you were wondering, the classic car you see in the above video is a Ferrari of some sort. While the name may not ring a bell, you may know the Italian car brand from its exquisite full-sized barge cruisers and lightweight Mondial models, which were popular in the 1960s and ’70s. But just because a Ferrari is the most popular type of vehicle at the track doesn’t mean that all of them are bespoke creations: you’ll also see plenty of standard models there as well.
So, as you may have guessed, the types of cars at the track vary from extremely classy to extremely tacky. Some of the more prominent automobiles that you may see there include:
- Barber Coupes
One thing is for sure: no matter what type of car you drive, there will always be someone there to shoot it down.
How Do I Get There?
To reach the grandstands from Southwestern Ontario, the first thing you need to do is head west on Highway 10. Stay on this road until you reach the 215 junction, where you’ll turn north onto the Avenue 25 bypass. Follow this road for about 10 miles and you’ll see the grandstands on your right.
If you’re coming from the east, it’s a similar story, except you’ll want to head south on the 215 until you reach the Highway 10 bypass. You’ll then want to take this road north for about 10 miles until you see the grandstands on your right.