While today’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is the first time the NASCAR Cup Series will visit the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, it’s not the first time that a NASCAR-sanctioned series visited the iconic stadium. In a post-practice press conference, Kevin Harvick said, “I’m probably the only guy that’s been here. But, I think it’s way better than racing through the streets of LA that we did in the Southwest Tour car back in 1999 with the jump through the gutter and things like that.”
From 1998 to 2000, the NASCAR Southwest Tour held a street race outside the Coliseum. On the NASCAR’s end, the organization didn’t seek to race in California’s largest city. A former NASCAR executive recalled to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, “I was approached by some people in L.A. who said, ‘Let’s do a street race.’ They had plenty of money. It was going to be a big undertaking and I said, ‘I’m gonna have to charge you a pretty good chunk of change,’ and they said fine, just send the contract.”
Two Cup Series drivers in this year’s Clash raced in the LA Street Race, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch. Despite being a stop on a regional tour, the event was able to attract stars from NASCAR’s national series. Ken Schrader, Ron Hornaday, Jr., Matt Crafton and Mark Martin all took part in at least one edition of the event. Perennial NASCAR road course ringer Boris Said also raced alongside helping to design the temporary street course.
The one-mile temporary circuit ran around the neighboring Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena utilizing perimeter roads and a double hairpin in a parking lot. The tight corners of the course created a caution-filled environment with little green-flag racing. Of the 340 laps raced during the street circuit’s three annual events, 122 laps were run under caution. Kevin Harvick finished neither of the two races he participated in. Maybe Harvick will be able to complete all 150 laps of the feature race tonight.