Clash at the Coliseum was born to give Los Angeles NASCAR fans the chance to watch modern day gladiators battle on a race track in one of the most iconic venues in the world. On Sunday, February 5, the Coliseum will open its doors for the annual pre-season Cup Series exhibition.
“When you drive into that arena full of people, and you surround them, and you can hear the roar and roar… there’s nothing like it,” said Stewart-Haas Racing driver Ryan Preece.
The Clash, which has previously been held at Daytona International Speedway since 1979, will move to Los Angeles for its first race at the Coliseum in 2022. Patrick Rogers, NASCAR’s vice president of marketing services, explained that the decision to move was inspired by a combination of factors, namely the weather In Southern California, watching the races in Los Angeles and the same runway.
“There’s a lot of history,” said Rogers. “They’ve been to the Olympics, they’ve had Super Bowls, they’ve had the World Series, they’ll have another Olympics there in ’28, and they’ll be able to brand NASCAR and then an event in such a special place…it’s incredible.
“Just going through the tunnel or coming through the Peristyle area and seeing the completed racetrack was absolutely amazing. … Then to see our cars on the track in a packed stadium like that, it’s hard to put into words.”
Rogers explained that one of the event’s primary missions, aside from offering an action-packed series like last year’s Clash won by Team Penske’s Joey Logano, is to give NASCAR fans the chance to experience a live event and a full exposure. New audience for the sport.
“Last year, just over 70% of those who attended an event had never been to a NASCAR event before,” Rogers said. “After the event, we took a look at everything, and the general feeling was very positive. For us, it was a no-brainer to do it again. … This event to be held on February 5th, I can say about those who have bought tickets so far , 50% of them didn’t show up last year. So she’s doing the same thing again.”
While fans can enjoy racing from the stands, Preece explained that the Clash gives drivers the chance to prepare for next season.
“I’ve been here at Stewart-Haas Racing for a year, and I’ve been working with my team boss Chad Johnston for a year and a half,” said Breece. “It’s a new team for us, so there are a lot of things, I would say, that we need to work through through the year and kind of kick-start that. And (the clash) is the beginning of that process.”
Bryce also described his excitement racing on a quarter-mile course, built to fit within the walls of the Colosseum. This quarter-mile bull loop is what many drivers raced while growing up in the sport, and made their way into NASCAR.
“As soon as NASCAR said they were going to do it, I was excited because I feel like this is as close to what we call our grassroots, as racing begins,” Brees said. “I think it’s a great way for not only us drivers to start the season, it’s the kind of racing we all come from, but it’s also something the fans can… sit there and watch and get excited every single lap. There’s a lot of aggressive racing out there from us race car drivers, and that happened. Wonderful “.
Fans will be able to enjoy a range of off-track experiences throughout the day, from a fan festival with live performances and food trucks to a Q&A stage that welcomes every driver into a session. There will also be a pre-race show by hip-hop legends Cypress Hill and a race break performance by famed rapper Wiz Khalifa.
After four qualifying rounds and two final qualifying races, the NASCAR Cup Series will begin at 5 p.m. to allow for the finale of the race, which will be held under the lights of the Coliseum.
“If there was one thing I could have changed last year, it would have been some timing to hide this thing until the end,” Rogers said. “When you think about the background of the city, you get the torch, all the hell we’ll unleash when the winning driver gets to the finish line and all the post-race ceremonies… I think that’s just going to be so much fun.”
“You want your name to be in the history books showing that you won that race,” Brees said. “You always feel like you need something to help build that anticipation and excitement for the Daytona 500, and what better way to do that than in Los Angeles.”