Wednesday, March 18, 2015

#NASCAR Boasts Long SoCal History

When Bill France Sr. founded NASCAR, he envisioned a stock car series that stretched from coast-to-coast. He worked immediately to make it happen.

#NASCAR  Boasts Long SoCal History
In 1951, the NASCAR Grand National Division (today’s Sprint Cup Series) visited Carrell Speedway in Gardena, California three times. The first race, held on April 8, was the first NASCAR venture west of the Mississippi. Marshall Teague took the checkered flag in his Fabulous Hudson Hornet, the same car he had driven to victory on the famed Daytona beach-road course two months earlier.

From 1958-88, Riverside International Raceway was a West Coast highlight of the NASCAR schedule. The race was often the first of the calendar year and from 1970-81 was the NASCAR premier series season opener. The list of Riverside race winners reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of motorsports, with NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison (6), Richard Petty (4), Darrell Waltrip (4), David Pearson (3), Cale Yarborough (3), Rusty Wallace (2) and Bill Elliott (1) winning 24 of the 48 races held at the 2.62-mile road course.

In 1971, NASCAR scheduled its first 500-mile oval race in Southern California at the new Ontario Motor Speedway (OMS). This racetrack was located in Ontario, California, 40 miles (64 km) east of Los Angeles. The 2.5-mile track was built as the “Indianapolis of the West,” complete with a rectangular shape and low banking. Its inaugural race, the 1,000th in premier series history, was won by racing legend A.J. Foyt, who had won three Indianapolis 500s at that point.

#NASCAR  Boasts Long SoCal History

In 1997, the Auto Club Speedway opened in Fontana, less than 2 miles (3.2 km) from the former site of the OMS, and the two names were sometimes confused. 

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