- Almost all weather services had been predicting heavy rain for Sunday days before NASCAR finally made its decision to move the main event from Sunday to Saturday.
- Had the call to race Saturday been made sooner, not only would more people have shown up at the Coliseum, but TV viewers would have been more likely to hear about the change.
- Likewise, TV viewership took a big hit.
NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum had troubles way out of organizers’ control.
The biggest was the weather, a Noahic deluge due to arrive on race day Sunday that forced NASCAR to run the race Saturday night. Word of that decision came just hours before Saturday night’s 5 pm green flag. Hence, the stands were sparsely filled.
A fan attendance figure was not released but a completely unscientific eyeballing of the stands returned an estimate of 15,000 (???) in the Los Angeles Coliseum. Don’t quote me on that.
Likewise, TV viewership took a big hit. Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal posted on X that viewership of The Clash on Fox Sports 1 was 1.511 million viewers, down from the first two editions of the Clash—both of which were held on Sundays with no rain: 4.283 million Clash TV viewers in 2022 and 3.647 million last year.
Everyone likes an armchair, Monday morning quarterback, so how about this: Almost all weather services had been predicting heavy rain for Sunday days before NASCAR finally made its decision. Had the call to race Saturday been made sooner, not only would more people have shown up at the Coliseum, but TV viewers would have been more likely to hear about the change.
“What we’re doing right now is unprecedented,” NASCAR chief operating officer Steve O’Donnell said in announcing the move to Saturday. “It’s in the best interest of the fans. It’s going to be an inconvenience, certainly, for those who had tickets and were really looking forward to this.
“We’re going to reach out to every single fan to see what we can do to make it good on their end, but this was our best option for us to at least see some racing, get people tuning in on FS1 and also those who were already coming out, to put on a race for them.”
NASCAR is doing the right thing and refunding all ticketholders their money. Go to nascarclash.com, click on the “CHAT WITH US” tab, and these words will pop up:
Thank you for your unwavering support!
While our Busch Light Clash weekend didn’t go as planned, we’re so grateful to have hosted fans who could make it on Saturday and those who tuned in on FS1.
Sunday ticketholders who purchased through Ticketmaster or NASCAR will automatically receive a refund. No further action is required. Pre-paid parking purchased for Sunday through Park Whiz will also be automatically refunded.
So Kudos to NASCAR for that.
The racing itself was just what many fans always say they want: bumpin’ and rubbin, with lots of traded paint and bashed fenders. There was even a shouting match adult conversation between Joey Logano and Ty Gibbs about who bumped whom.
The Mexican NASCAR race was successfully held immediately following The Clash, another clever move by NASCAR to draw in fans from LA’s significant Spanish-speaking community. That race was won by Mexican NASCAR alum and current Cup driver Daniel Suarez. His victory in the King Taco La Batalla en El Coliseo had everything a marketing planner could ask for.
Yet Mother Nature ultimately overruled everyone.
There is still no word on the future of the event. Its three-year contract ended Sunday night. It costs NASCAR over $1 million to pave the Coliseum and then unpave it right after the race. That and putting up everyone in hotels in downtown LA ain’t cheap.
Further east, where the former California Speedway is being bulldozed as we speak, there is no word whether NASCAR or anyone will build a half-mile oval at the site in Fontana, once home to a much-touted 2.5-mile D-shaped oval that featured races from just about every major motorsports sanctioning body in the country. Nearby Irwindale’s half-mile paved oval can only accommodate 6500 fans.
What’s going to happen? Who knows?
But the actual racing at El Coleseo was good, the event was enjoyable, you could take LA’s light rail system right to the track. You could see the LA Skyline if you sat high enough up on the southside bleachers. Maybe the problem is Los Angeles itself, packed as it is with myriad entertainment alternatives. With the Grammys, the Oscars, and other events, maybe NASCAR just doesn’t have the same appeal here as in other parts of the country?
Let us know what you think about NASCAR in LA in the comments.
Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.