For years, Fontana Speedway has been one of the premier dirt track racing venues, hosting NASCAR, IndyCar, and other local racing series. Now, with the pandemic temporarily put a halt to motorsports, the team is looking for a way to bring back the action.
The owner of the historic oval, Roger Williamson, has seen his fan base dwindle as tracks have closed. The last NASCAR race at Fontana was in April, and since then, the speedway’s only competitions have been 5k and 10k runs for local high school athletes. But with the help of some track promoters, the team is looking to bring some motorsports back to Fontana.
This year, the team is planning to bring back the IndyCar and NASCAR circuits, along with the truck series. But how exactly do they plan to do that?
The Return Of NASCAR
As the name implies, the NASCAR races at Fontana have been a regular part of the motorsports schedule for years. The first edition of the Cup Series was held in April 1945, with a total of 12 cars participating. The event was won by Jimmy Morrison, who completed a full 200 laps on his way to the podium.
Since then, the race has been held annually, with the exception of a few years during World War II when it was postponed or canceled due to weather conditions or conflicts with military events. It was recently announced that NASCAR will be returning to Fontana in 2021, with 24 cars participating in the race.
The sanctioning body has planned multiple races at the track, including the Indy 500 in May 2021. This announcement followed the formal approval of the proposal during recent meetings. With the approval, the event will be known as the Freedom Indy 500, and will be the first race held in May since the pandemic began in the spring of 2020.
The Resurrected IndyCar Series
Although NASCAR brought back the race, it didn’t come without a catch. The sanctioning body only brought back the IndyCar series, but didn’t commit to any additional races at Fontana. But that didn’t stop the track owner from making plans to host the IndyCar series.
The last IndyCar was held at the track in April 2020, and with limited competition since then, the team is looking to bring back the series. The track released an official statement that it will be inviting IndyCar and other racing series in the future.
The most recent IndyCar race was postponed from early May to late June due to the pandemic. But with the track opening up its gates in May 2021, and with the approval of the Indy 500 in May, the team at Fontana is looking to make a grand re-entry for the popular open-wheel series. And with the support of the IndyCar series, they might just pull it off.
One of the factors that helped make Fontana Speedway a legendary track was its unique design. The 2.5-mile oval has long been known for its challenging turns and tight spots. Drivers and crews alike have praised the unique features of the track, and it was even featured in the book, Classic Tracks, in which Dale Earnhardt Jr. described it as a “must-see track”. The design of the track is said to have been inspired by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with a “middle finger”-shaped swale in the middle of the oval. It’s also the first grass track in NASCAR history, and it was built in 1926, so it’s been around for some time.
The track is currently owned by Roger Williamson, and he has stated his desire to see a revival of sorts for the oval. And with limited competition since the pandemic, it has given him the opportunity to do just that. He has organized a group of investors that are funding the project, and they have a plan to bring back the magic of the olden days at Fontana Speedway.
The Resurrected Truck Series
While the return of the IndyCar and NASCAR circuits is something to celebrate, the resurrection of the truck series at Fontana is cause for concern. Although NASCAR has revived the truck series, it has decided to limit competition at the track to ensure the safety of its fans. This is problematic for racers and fans alike, as there is only so much space at the track, and it was recently announced that there will be a max of 16 truck series entries in the summer 2021 edition.
The trucks have been around for much of the last century, but they fell out of popularity in the wake of the new-age motor car. And just as NASCAR decided to keep the cars on the track, it has decided to bring back the trucks for the same reasons. It’s not yet clear how much longer the trucks will remain a part of the NASCAR schedule.
Where Do The Competitions Stand Now?
With the return of the IndyCar, NASCAR, and truck series to Fontana Speedway, it is clear that Roger Williamson and crew have their work cut out for them. They will need to revamp the entire infrastructure of the track in order to accommodate the different types of racing, and they will also need to prepare the grounds for the large crowds that are expected. With these challenges in mind, it’s quite possible that the racing won’t happen for a while.