Just 12 months ago, California Speedway was a gleaming symbol of American speedway greatness, its banks lined with gleaming racecars and its grandstands packed with jubilant spectators. On September 10th, however, the iconic speedway will be closing its doors for good, with rumors swirling that it could be sold to a foreign conglomerate, potentially shifting the California Speedway’s identity forever.
The Last Cup Run
What happened to change everything? In April 2018, the NASCAR Xfinity series was undergoing an unprecedented season, with 11 of its 16 races at California Speedway, as well as the annual Sprint Cup race. The series was won by Darrell Wallace Jr., an outstanding young driver who hails from nearby Sonoma. But in typical Cup Series fashion, things took a turn for the worse once the Chase for the Cup got underway.
In the first two weeks, Wallace finished outside the top 10 in four of the 11 races. Things got even worse from there, as Wallace failed to qualify for the next three Chase races, including the season finale. Even when he did make the race, he ended up finishing well outside the top 10, and in the end, he only managed to secure 11th place in the Cup standings, a massive fall from grace for a driver who was previously considered a heavy favorite to win the championship.
It was a season of high hopes and great expectations for the young driver who was already making waves with an electric performance in the Xfinity series. “It’s been a tough season,” Wallace Jr. told media at the time. “But I’ve learned a lot and am looking forward to next year. Hopefully, I’ll be better prepared.”
It’s fair to say that Wallace didn’t have a good season, but in true NASCAR fashion, it was a learning experience. He had, however, one final hurrah, as he scored his first career Cup Series championship in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As he came down the homestretch with the trophy in hand, Wallace’s mother Judy, father Darrell Sr., and sister Danielle (who is married to Wallace’s crew chief) could be seen in the stands, beaming with pride.
Why Is California Speedway So Important To NASCAR?
The thing about California Speedway is that it’s such a distinctive track, with its yellow brick road and distinctive seating area in the shape of a banana. It also hosts some of NASCAR’s most famous races, including the Monster Energy Grand Prix, the Running of the Bulls and the prestigious IndyCar Grand Prix. The fact that it’s in a suburban location makes it easily accessible to fans, and the large capacity of the grandstands means everyone can get a piece of the action.
If you’re a racing fan, then it would be hard to not know about or visit California Speedway. For non-racing fans, it’s still a gleaming example of American speedway culture, and the foreign ownership rumors make it even more of an intriguing topic. If you’ve never been to a NASCAR race, then you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit this unique track in October, and you might find yourself rooting for the home team even if you’re actually from somewhere else. Who knows – maybe the foreign ownership rumors won’t materialize after all.