LA Coliseum general manager optimistic about NASCAR’s 2023 return for the Clash

The general manager of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum is optimistic that NASCAR will return to the venue for its season-opening Clash exhibition race in 2023.

“I think that’s pretty high,” Coliseum general manager Joe Furin said. Athleticism Thursday when asked about NASCAR’s chances of a comeback. “Obviously I’m biased, but I’m also optimistic that there were so many positive things about Year 1 that I think it’s a good, good shot.”

NASCAR signed a deal with the Coliseum last year to build a quarter-mile paved track inside the historic stadium and stage a race on Feb. 6, 2022. The deal was for three years, with NASCAR holding a option on the last two years, which NASCAR then had to exercise 90 days from the end of the race if it wanted to return in 2023. Discussions are ongoing between NASCAR and the Coliseum about exercising this option before the date May 6 deadline, although Furin indicated that it was not a difficult deadline.

Furin pointed out that no agreement with NASCAR has been finalized, but the parties communicate regularly. He estimated there was a “75 to 80 percent” chance that NASCAR would race at the Coliseum again in 2023.

“I’ve been in the business for a long time,” Furin said. “I’m just saying that to say things come, they go. You think you have it, it’s signed, sealed, and delivered, and then a change is made. So nothing really surprises me anymore. But I think it’s quite high. My personal feeling is that it is quite high.

The idea for a purpose-built track inside the Colosseum, site of two Super Bowls and two Summer Olympics, was conceived by Ben Kennedy, senior vice president of race development and strategy and great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. Skepticism existed about whether a passable track could be built inside a football stadium and run without various complications. And it wasn’t cheap, costing “well over” $1 million, according to NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell.

But the Clash went well, with no issues with the track itself. Almost immediately after, the event garnered high praise in the industry and among fans.

Adding to the excitement, a pre-race concert featuring Pitbull, a halftime performance by Ice Cube, Fox televising the race to a national audience on Sunday night and the fact that approximately 70% of those who purchased a ticket were attending their first NASCAR race, according to data provided by Ticketmaster to NASCAR.

“What made this event so unique was seeing the inside of the Colosseum, a football stadium, when visually you’re so used to seeing green grass there, suddenly seeing cars racing “, said Furin. “You heard it, it smelled like burnt rubber. It really was a different feeling. This event was truly off the beaten track.

With all the positivity surrounding the Clash, it was likely that NASCAR would return for a second year. NASCAR executives have publicly said they are open to the idea, although they have not officially committed as the sanctioning body works to finalize the 2023 Cup Series schedule.

“We’re still in talks with the Coliseum about whether we’re going back, kinda what it might look like. Would the formatting be different, would we add an extra day, would we have extra content this weekend, what would the entertainment look like? Kennedy told reporters on April 5. “I think a lot of the unique aspects of it are having a Pitbull concert, an Ice Cube halftime show, a lot of things that we’ve, frankly, never done before.

“And if we come back for a second year, we want to make sure that we continue to elevate that experience, make it something that’s a big part of the calendar and create a bit of newness every year as well. Lots to work on. J hope I would say that at the beginning of the summer we will share more.

If NASCAR returned to the Coliseum, it would likely be late January, early February, Furin said, citing the two-month window needed to build and dismantle the track in addition to other events planned at the site and hosting games for USC football. . in the fall and the LA Giltinis Major League Rugby team in the spring.

“It takes a long time to grow this stadium from a football pitch to (a running track) so we don’t have a lot of windows throughout the year where we would have that much time,” said Furin said. “So, yeah, it makes sense that it would come back for us after the college football season and before we go into our spring season of rugby and things like that.”

(Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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