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Jun 23, 2001

California Speedway Officially Announces Plan To Add Infield Road Course

California Speedway officials in Fontana, California announced June 19 that they would construct an all-new infield road course to possibly host AMA Superbike races.<BR><BR>In a press conference for mainstream media held June 19, California Speedway officials told reporters that ground was broken June 11 on a multi-layout infield road course designed by Associated Engineers, one of the designers of the speedway, and to be constructed by Yeager Construction, the same company that built the state-of-the-art speedway.<BR><BR>The new infield is scheduled for an early-fall completion, with four main configurations: a 1.5-mile, 13-turn course; a 1.55-mile, 17-turn section; a 2.36-mile, 21-turn layout; and a 2.88-mile, 21-turn circuit. The 2.88-mile course is labeled the "Auto Competition Course." The 2.36-mile layout is called the "Motorcycle Competition Course." While both of the shorter courses will stay completely within the infield of California Speedway, both of the longer circuits will utilize portions of the speedway's 75-foot-wide, D-shaped oval. The infield road course will be built to FIM / FIA-specifications, 45-feet wide and will feature an asphalt racing surface similar in compound to the speedway's pavement. Including the construction of a temporary drag strip located in the vast parking lot of the speedway, the whole project is expected to cost some where between $2 and $3 million.<BR><BR>Since its 1997 opening, California Speedway has had a 1.3-mile infield road course that has been used 85 days a year for testing, driving schools and TV commercial production, but not competition. The new addition to the Fontana racing facility is aimed directly at attracting additional spectator road racing events.<BR><BR>"This is an exciting time for California Speedway as we take the next step in our continuation as a premier motorsports facility," California Speedway President Bill Miller told reporters June 19. "The development of this road course increases the opportunities for us to host additional events that motorsports fans in Southern California will want to experience. <BR><BR>"We've had preliminary discussions with AMA and Grand Am (Grand American Road Racing Series). Now that we've broken ground and are proceeding with the course, we look forward to intensifying those discussions and seeing what makes sense from an entertainment and business standpoint. We have not finalized anything yet, but we anticipate making an announcement later this fall."<BR><BR>A spring NASCAR Winston Cup/Busch Series and a fall CART FedEx Championship Series/ NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series weekends are the two major spectator events held each year at California Speedway. The Spring 2001 NASCAR race attracted a sell-out crowd of 120,000 spectators. The speedway estimates that their new road races will, initially, attract crowds of 20,000 to 25,000. Those numbers are conservative considering California Speedway's spectator amenities and ease of access from all of Southern California, Arizona, and Las Vegas area. <BR><BR>Roadracingworld.com broke the story of the possibility of the AMA racing at California Speedway May 9. Erion Honda owner Kevin Erion, along with riders Mark Miller and Jake Zemke, attended a feasibility test overseen by AMA Superbike Racing Operations Manager Ron Barrick and several executives from the racetrack.<BR><BR>"We did several, if not a dozen, entries on to the front straightaway from a proposed exit out of the infield," said Erion's Miller in a telephone interview with Roadracing World June 21. "It seemed to work just fine. The angle of attack was safe. It doesn't look like we're anywhere close to getting up toward the wall. On the brakes (for turn one), it's not the most optimum runoff in the whole world because you gotta brake at some point to get into the infield. Obviously, there's an oval wall at the exit, but it's quite far away. It's nothing like a Loudon, or a Phoenix. It could be an 1/8th-mile away before you would hit a wall. And again the angle of attack is actually bringing you down away from the wall if the proposed track is in fact implemented like we spoke about that day. It actually brings you down the front straight and angles you toward the infield before you brake. I think that's gonna be just fine." <BR><BR>When asked what kind of top speed he saw, Miller estimated, "I would say about 165 mph possibly, on the CBR929RR Formula Xtreme bike. It's a huge oval. So the front straighaway is quite extensive, but we're actually starting from a relatively low speed at the entrance to that straightaway where we're coming off of the infield. It's not like we have a big fourth-gear run off of the banking onto the front like Daytona. <BR><BR>"We tried to use a little bit of the oval, but it just did not seem safe in anyway. The bikes are so much faster than that oval will allow with the amount of grip available that the oval, other than the front straightaway, just had to be completely taken out of the whole lap. There's not enough banking. It's nothing like the 32-degree banking of Daytona. <BR><BR>"I think the layout that we had come to an agreement on, the basic layout, is going to be safe enough for motorcycles. Hopefully, it comes to fruition in the way that we talked about, and it doesn't change because of different varying issues either be money or logistics or that kind of thing. It's actually very, very, very similar to the new road course in Germany (Lausitzring) that the World Superbikes just raced at. It's damn near the exact same thing that we were looking at," continued Miller.<BR><BR>"I think the speedway has a lot to offer in the way of beauty and pageantry and history and also just the facilities, the garages, the bathrooms, and the stands. It looks like the fans will be able to see most of the racetrack. I believe they're going to build a grandstand inside, or throughout, the infield as well which will also give you a complete view of the racetrack. So it should be a fantastic overall experience for fans. I think Southern California is a terrific market to go ahead and spend a little money in a wild racetrack. I'm looking forward to it," Miller concluded.