Is Fontana Race Track Called Auto Club Speedway? [Answered!]

Many consider the Indianapolis 500 to be the most famous and prestigious automobile race in the world. Known as the “world’s greatest sporting event,” the Indianapolis 500 is one of the four “original classic” races sanctioned by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). So it should come as no great surprise that the city of Indianapolis has a whole section of downtown devoted to celebrating the storied history of motor racing in the USA. One of the central features of this celebration is the Fontana Race Track, located just north of the city center.

While the Indianapolis 500 is widely regarded as the “granddaddy” of American sports car races, the track itself was actually first opened in 1909. For the first several decades of its existence, Fontana was one of the most prestigious automobile racing venues in North America.

The heyday of Fontana Speedway can still be felt among racing enthusiasts. After World War II, the track’s official name was changed to Auto Club Speedway (now called Allstate Speedway) in accordance with a sponsorship deal that the track’s owners had with the auto insurance company Allstate. But even today, many consider the old nickname to be the better of the two options.

The Legend Of The Milkshake Hill

One of the iconic photos from the 2016 IndyCar Grand Prix at Auto Club Speedway is that of Alexander Rossi. The driver was parked near the entrance to the pit lane when he spotted a woman in a cow costume approaching.

Rossi’s camera was thankfully equipped with a wide-angle lens, which enabled him to capture the stunning detail of the woman’s outfit. Even if you’ve never heard of the Milkshake Hill — named after the dairy company that sponsored the track in the 1960s — you’ll recognize the iconic red, white, and blue attire.

Back in the day, the dairy company would send its representatives to the track dressed in these outfits to accept the honorary milk shakes from the competitors after every race. But, as you might imagine, the honorary milkshakes quickly turned into something more…

The Evolution Of Racing

Over the years, technology has played a significant role in changing the scope and nature of auto racing. In the early 20th Century, all cars were manufactured with a hand-cranking engine, which enabled them to be a completely self-sufficient mobile unit. They were light, too, which made it possible for ordinary men (and women) to participate in races. This is in contrast to today’s formula one racers, which are built with an engine that can propel them forward at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour!

The nature of auto racing — both as a spectator sport and as a means of commercialized competition — has also changed. Before the advent of the “Superbowl” of auto racing, the Indianapolis 500 was the pinnacle of the sport. Today, the Indianapolis 500 is just one of many races that qualify as the “spring racing season.” Many other venues, such as Eldora and Pocono, offer similar attractions for sports car enthusiasts.

One of the significant changes that came about as a result of the Great Depression and World War II was the rise of the motor sports journalist. Prior to the late 1930s, cars were largely the domain of male drivers. But after the stock market crash of ’29 and the rise of the Nazis in Germany, the USA government became wary of any involvement in the auto industry. This was coupled with the growing popularity of motor sports, which at the time was largely limited to men driving other men’s vehicles on closed tracks.

As a result, a number of what are now considered the “fathers” of American automotive journalism broke into the field. Journalist Arthur Herbert was one of the first to specialize in covering motor sports, and his son, Arthur Jr., would later take over the reigns of the family business. During this time, women were also beginning to enter the field in larger numbers. The 1950s and 1960s were notable for their “Miss America” races, which attracted many more spectators than the previously male-dominated Indy 500. But perhaps the most significant shift came about in 1967, when the Indy 500 became the first major race to be televised in color!

But just because technology has evolved, that doesn’t mean that the nature of auto racing has remained static. While today’s cars are faster, more powerful, and more sophisticated than ever before, the soul of the sport — both then and now — lies in the hands of the passionate enthusiast.

There are still many unanswered questions about the final project, but the folks at Historic Sports Car (HSR) are determined to bring their vision to life.

The first step in this process was to have the iconic red, white, and blue paint scheme created for the Milkshake Hill restored. According to HSR owner John Bishop, “this was a labor of love, as we have been following Rossi’s career for many years. We’re glad that we were able to contribute to his legacy with this one small project.”

The People’s Car

One of the significant differences between today’s IndyCar and those of the early 20th Century is the presence of a wide assortment of racing fanatics. Back in the day, spectators would turn up in droves to witness a classic showdown between two or three drivers. These days, the emphasis is much more on marketing and corporate partnerships. The IndyCar Series now boasts nearly 200,000 followers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While that’s undoubtedly a testament to the sheer volume of automotive-related content available online, it’s also a reflection of how much modern-day racing has changed from the popular sport that it was in its early days.

Even so, cars still remain a source of fascination for many. Witness the many whooping fans — both young and old — who came out to watch Andretti Autosport driver Alexander Rossi take home his fourth IndyCar Series championship in May!

What’s In Store For The Future?

The IndyCar Grand Prix at Fontana is an annual event that attracts thousands of sports car fans and enthusiasts to the track. It’s one of the most important races of the season, second only to the Indianapolis 500. This year’s GP at Fontana was also graced by a record number of women, which made up 39% of the field!

There’s a good reason why the IndyCar Grand Prix has been around since 1909. It’s because the Indianapolis 500 was the first of the “original classic” races, and it’s still the most prestigious event of the spring season. These days, the track itself is an active member of the National Historic Preservation group, and it’s devoted to preserving the legacy of motor racing in the USA. The owners and managers of the track also recognize the importance of attracting families and children to the sport. It was this blend of historic pride, corporate sponsorship, and family entertainment that helped make the Indianapolis 500 one of the truly classic traditions in American sports.

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