Next weekend, real NASCAR Cup Series racing returns with a one-of-a-kind event, the Clash at the Coliseum.
Jammed into the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, construction crews created a quarter-mile racetrack from a football field at the cost of approximately $1 million. Starring in the made-for-TV spectacle will be a line of A-list entertainers and celebrities. There will be live music, lights, cameras, and the debut of the much-hyped Next Gen cars.
Here are three reasons why the Clash at the Coliseum on Feb. 6 will prove to be more of a Hollywood party than a NASCAR race:
1. NASCAR live in concert
Between the club-scene atmosphere and an Ice Cube concert, NASCAR fans may see racing for the first time since Kyle Larson’s pit crew clinched the 2021 drivers’ title for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. At least a hint of it, anyway.
DJ Skee will serve as an in-house disc jockey during caution periods, spinning the tunes while pit-crew members spin lug nuts.
“We’ve said from the beginning that the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is a first-of-its-kind event, and having DJ Skee spinning during the caution breaks adds to the fresh, unique nature of this event,” NASCAR Senior Vice President for Strategy and Innovation Ben Kennedy told NASCAR.com.
Hometown headliner Ice Cube will perform during a racing break.
Rest assured, between all of the live music, celebrity guest appearances, and Hollywood glitz, NASCAR fans will get a glimpse of how the drivers handle the Next Gen cars. But how much will fans take away from the bump-and-grind racing on a track half the size of Martinsville Speedway?
2. It’s like an NFL preseason game
The Clash winner likely will not be remembered long. Outside of becoming the subject of a future trick bar bet. Years from now, between drinks, ask someone which driver won the first Cup race driving the Next Gen cars.
Naturally, future fans will likely immediately think of the 2022 Daytona 500 winner. Most will not recall the driver who takes the checkered flag for the preseason exhibition event. Bar bet won.
A top-10 finish will not mean anything toward gaining early momentum in the 2022 drivers’ standings. Most teams will only depart California with a banged-up machine. The international supply-chain disorder could present a problem with Speedweeks approaching.
The showcase will present NASCAR officials with an opportunity to see if the LA Coliseum race could be made into an annual event. Maybe? With a bit of Hollywood magic, they could surround the track with a ring of fire or an alligator-filled moat for an added attraction. They can have autograph auctions after each lap.
Perhaps the next NASCAR event at the site will be a points race.
Then, possibly, it could be billed as “Showtime.”
3. Convoluted qualifying sessions
Somehow, 23 new Next Gen machines will line up for the main event.
How those cars get into position, well … it gets a bit complicated.
For the first time, NASCAR will unleash a two-day schedule of convoluted qualifying sessions. If you remain perplexed at first, don’t worry; get in line. Forty teams are expected to attempt to qualify.
The unique setup, similar to the one used by the World of Outlaws Late Model Series, begins on Jan. 5. Following practice runs, NASCAR will stage single-car qualifying runs to set up the starting order for the next day’s four 10-car heat races.
The quad 25-lap heat races will position the top four pilots from each race. The remaining cars will qualify through two 50-lap Last Chance Qualifying spins. The first-heat winner will sit on the pole for the main feature.
NASCAR will reserve the final starting spot for the driver with the most 2021 points who failed to qualify. The remaining 17 teams will exit early after a short run.