If you enjoy watching professional auto racing live and in-person, SoCal (Southern California) is the place to be. Also, it takes a lot of tech to bring you a new AutoMatters column each and every week, so this week come into my home office and take a close-up look at some of my latest hi-tech tools.
Coming up on March 21 – 23, NASCAR returns to SoCal with the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana (50 miles east of Los Angeles).
Watch for crowd favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is on a roll – fresh from his season-opening win in the Daytona 500 last month.
On Friday, March 21, at the Press-Enterprise pole day, the on-track action will include NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers competing against the clock – and each other, in the all-new group knockout qualifying format. Also take advantage of this day to check out the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone. There will be plenty to see, do and eat, plus a great selection of souvenirs featuring your favorite NASCAR drivers.
Next, on Saturday, enjoy live music and Freestyle MotoX in the Fan Zone, and the TREATMYCLOT.COM 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, where you’ll see up-and-coming young drivers and some more familiar names all challenging for the race win.
This all leads up to Sunday’s Auto Club 400 on the two-mile, high speed, D-shaped banked oval in Fontana, but first you’ll be treated to a pre-race concert on the Fan Zone’s main stage by American singer-songwriter, actor and multi-GRAMMY nominated Billy Ray Cyrus. You’ll know when the race is about to start when you see the flyover – by the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels! Yes, thankfully the effects of the drastic federal budget cuts – which brought so much to a screeching halt in 2013 (including our Miramar Air Show, at the last minute), seem to have eased and the Blue Angels are back making public performances. This is their only scheduled sporting event for 2014 so don’t miss it!
Parking is free and tickets start at only $35 (even less for AAA members, with other special offers available). For tickets and more information, call 800-944-RACE or go to www.autoclubspeedway.com and then navigate to TICKETS & EVENTS, NASCAR and Auto Club 400.
You’ll find more great SoCal pro motorsports action April 11 – 13, as the IndyCars race through the streets during the 40
anniversary celebration of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Mario Andretti will be this year’s Grand Marshall. I am also eagerly looking forward to this year’s Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race, to see if the tables get turned for competitor Phil Keoghan, long-time host of “The Amazing Race,” which is one of my favorite TV shows. In addition to the terrific party atmosphere and the Lifestyle Expo, the weekend’s incredible lineup of racing series also includes the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Indy Lights, Motegi Racing Super Drift Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge and SPEED Energy Stadium Super Trucks (seeing these fly through the air after they are launched high on ramps is a sight to see). For information and tickets, go to www.gplb.com.