AutoMatters & More: NASCAR bids an action-packed farewell to Auto Club Speedway’s superspeedway
I woke up early this morning to write this week’s column, which is due at a newspaper by 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays, my first publication’s deadline. I had decided to write about an entirely different topic — a review of some really great non-stick frying pans that I wanted to tell you about. Really! However, before doing that, I checked my email.
A fellow automotive journalist had written to me, replying to the email that I had sent to him with a photo of me that yet another fellow automotive journalist shot after Sunday’s two NASCAR races — the final two NASCAR races ever on the superspeedway configuration of Auto Club Speedway (formerly California Speedway) in Fontana.
I was going to send him a quick reply but the more I wrote, the more I wanted to share with him about my experiences and impressions from the weekend. Soon I had written more than enough to fill a column — and then some, so I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to change my plans and do just that. Sorry, but those of you who wanted to get my recommendation for great non-stick frying pans will have to wait (LOL).
I had to scramble to transfer over 3,000 of my race photos from this past weekend, and then edit a few of them for the initial distribution of this column to publications. Eventually I will edit many more of those photos and include them with this column on my AutoMatters.net website.
We were treated to an exciting NASCAR twofer on Sunday, thanks to a lot of rain and even a rare dusting of snow on Saturday — which led to the elimination of practice, qualifying and Xfinity Series racing. Fortunately, I had believed the dire weather forecasts that predicted a 100% chance of rain on Saturday, so I did not make the long drive from my home in San Diego for that exercise in futility. Nevertheless, it was still freezing cold on Sunday, when I did go.
Both races were action-packed — more so than usual for Cup Series races on the ultra-wide superspeedway. Kyle Busch survived the melee of the nine-car ‘Big One’ during the Second Stage restart of the Cup Series race (lap 86 of 200), and went on to win — setting a record for his 19-race-winning NASCAR seasons in a row and, in so doing, breaking a tie with “King” Richard Petty’s record of 18.
The Xfinity Series race — won by John Hunter Nemechek — finished at night, under the lights.
I had to shoot it as best as I could with gloves on, since by then my fingers were numb. Despite my wearing a big, down-filled parka to mitigate the effects of the cold, by the second race my legs were shaking. I have not had to do that in about 50 years, back when I lived and shot auto racing in Alberta, Canada.
I hope the promised new short track replacement for the 2-mile Auto Club Speedway’s superspeedway (1997-2023 RIP) is actually built. The back straight, with no grandstands and where much of the on-track action happens, is too far away from the grandstands overlooking the pits on the other side of the track for the fans to be able to see it well. The promised new reconfiguration to a short track, by 2025 or 2026, will provide much better viewing for fans and press photographers alike, and should also promote much more on-track action.
I have the longest superzoom lens (100-500mm) that Canon makes for their relatively new RF mirrorless mount and cameras, but that did not provide quite enough zoom reach, so I needed to heavily crop the photos of the action that I could barely see on the back straight. Luckily the photos were not further degraded by the usual blurring, hot weather haze rising from the track. Nevertheless, it was difficult for me to see the telltale signs of incidents shaping up before they happened, so that I could try to shoot them.
For results, video highlights and complete reporting about the Cup Series and Xfinity Series races this past weekend, visit and click around the NASCAR website at https://www.nascar.com.
To explore a wide variety of content dating back to 2002, with the most photos and the latest text, visit “AutoMatters & More” at https://automatters.net. Search by title or topic in the Search Bar in the middle of the Home Page, or click on the blue ‘years’ boxes and browse.
Copyright © 2023 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #781r1
Get the Del Mar Times in your inbox
Top stories from Carmel Valley, Del Mar and Solana Beach every Friday for free.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Del Mar Times.