Sunday, July 21, 2024

NASCAR could look into these five stadiums for events after Busch Clash at the L.A. Coliseum

After months of anticipation tempered with healthy skepticism as to whether or not such a feat could be pulled off, NASCAR can gladly call the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Coliseum a resounding success: Last Sunday’s preseason exhibition race accomplished all of its objectives both on and off the track, as NASCAR’s purpose-built quarter-mile track within the confines of a major sports stadium put on an exciting race in a new, cosmopolitan setting for a new, largely cosmopolitan audience. By all metrics, from attendance to TV ratings, the event was a hit that both breathed new life into the once-stagnant Clash and advanced many objectives towards NASCAR’s growth.

With the Los Angeles Coliseum proving that NASCAR can successfully put on a race at a temporary oval in a stadium, an entirely new range of possibilities is suddenly open to the sport of stock car racing. Theoretically, NASCAR can now put on a race just about anywhere, and the constraints of needing a purpose-built racetrack or course need no longer apply.

This was far from lost on NASCAR officials and competitors alike. In the leadup to the Clash, both discussed the idea that a successful event could allow the sport to transplant the Coliseum track and race anywhere both in the United States and around the world.

“If it does work, shoot, pick up the walls and set them down somewhere else and keep going. Go from one stadium to the next,” Joey Logano said in a story by Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic. “I think it’s awesome that if this does work, it gives us the ability to race downtown. It gives us the ability to race in the middle of cities where the stadiums are placed. And if we can do that, I think that brings our sport to a whole different level.”

“You think about some of the new markets for our existing international series and then expanding into others with a handful of existing road courses that you could go to out there,” NASCAR senior vice president of strategy and innovation Ben Kennedy said in a story by Dustin Long of NBC Sports. “Not a ton of short tracks. We have a ton of soccer stadiums. We’ve talked about this for a number of years of building a temporary track inside of it. We haven’t had the chance to do it internationally yet.”

Granted, the boundlessness of imagination is somewhat tempered by practical considerations — A quarter-mile oval like the Coliseum track would likely only be suited for a special event with smaller fields like the Clash or the annual NASCAR All-Star Race. But in the days after the Clash at the Coliseum, thinking of which major sporting stadiums both in the United States and around the world could pull a similar event off is a fun and worthy exercise.

With that considered, here are five stadiums where NASCAR could potentially choose to hold a race like the Clash at the Coliseum in the future.

Yankee Stadium – The Bronx, New York

For ages, the New York City market has served as the Great White Whale of NASCAR:. It presents the biggest city and media market possible for any sport in America, but its immediate area lacks a racetrack capable of hosting NASCAR racing. NASCAR famously tried to get a racetrack built in Staten Island in the 2000s, but that effort was crushed by the misgivings of NIMBYers and local politicians.

But the Clash now presents an easy workaround. Theoretically, NASCAR could race in New York City without having to go through the effort of building an actual racetrack. And what better place to do that than Yankee Stadium? The home of the New York Yankees and located in the very heart of The Bronx, Yankee Stadium presents a world-famous venue.

Granted, there would be a few impediments towards actually racing at Yankee Stadium: No track-building effort could interrupt the Yankees’ season, and the possibility of winter storms make holding a race in a similar timeframe to last Sunday’s Clash less than tenable — Not to mention the minefield that local New York politics and red tape presents. If the latter proves overwhelming for NASCAR, MetLife Stadium just across the Hudson River — home to the New York Giants and Jets — would work just as well.

Tokyo Dome – Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan

In terms of international markets, there is already a great familiarity and comfort for NASCAR in Japan. The sport held multiple offseason exhibition races there in the 1990s, which were held at both Suzuka Circuit and Twin Ring Motegi. Japan itself also has a rich history of both domestic and international racing, best highlighted by Formula 1’s long-standing Japanese Grand Prix.

Theoretically, NASCAR racing in Tokyo at the city’s most identifiable arena — home to the Nippon League’s Yomirui Giants — would make an ideal pairing. Granted, actually racing within a domed stadium would require some intuitive thinking and development — particularly given both indoor emissions and noise mitigation — but the presence of Monster Truck races at the Dome as well as the Chili Bowl Nationals for midget sprint cars in the United States shows that it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

Caesars Superdome – New Orleans, Louisiana

In spite of its origins and rich heritage within the southeast, one major southern market that NASCAR has never quite penetrated has been New Orleans, Louisiana. A major party city and many times a Super Bowl host city, NASCAR has little to no history in New Orleans, and the auto racing industry as a large has only recently began to make a footprint within it with the opening of NOLA Motorsports Park in Avondale a decade ago.

Holding the Clash at the Superdome — during a non-Super Bowl year — would quickly fix that. And it would create an engaging, exciting environment for fans, drivers, and teams that couldn’t be replicated anywhere else. Especially so close to Mardi Gras.

Wembley Stadium – London, England

Through the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, stock car racing already has a seat at the table in the European racing scene. And in the United Kingdom, NASCAR racing occurs at Brands Hatch in West Kingsdown. But while road course racing has become a greater part of NASCAR over the past 10 years, it isn’t the most practical for serving as an exhibition to audiences that don’t already watch Formula 1 or other forms of racing popular across the pond.

Enter Wembley Stadium. The largest stadium in the UK and one of the most iconic venues in all of soccer, Wembley presents fertile and ideal grounds for NASCAR to construct a racetrack reminiscent of the one built at the L.A. Coliseum. For what it’s worth, a NASCAR race in Great Britain could attract the presence of the nation’s great racers, including current F1 star Lewis Hamilton as well as living past champions like Sir Jackie Stewart, Damon Hill, and Jenson Button.

Empower Field at Mile High – Denver, Colorado

While their interest has more understated compared to markets like New York, NASCAR has long had interest in entering the Denver market, which presents something of ample ground for racing. Furniture Row Racing, which won the 2017 Cup Series championship with Martin Truex Jr., was based in Denver. And Colorado itself has a rich motorsports history that includes NASCAR, as what are now the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series raced at Pikes Peak International Raceway — in the shadow of the famed Pikes Peak Hill Climb — from 1998 to 2005.

Using Empower Field at Mile High, the home of the Denver Broncos, presents a ripe opportunity for NASCAR to get back into the market. While football season and the mountain winters may not make Mile High suited for the Clash, it would make for a perfect site for the All-Star Race at midseason, should NASCAR choose to take a similar direction with the All-Star Race as they have with the Clash.

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