The sound of roaring engines and the smell of burning rubber will fill Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sunday, but it won’t have anything to do with the nearby 110 Freeway.
NASCAR — which built a temporary quarter-mile asphalt auto-racing track atop the turf where Trojans usually trod — will kick off its 2022 schedule with the Busch Light Clash, a preseason, non-points exhibition race.
Qualifying heats began Saturday, and the 150-lap main event is set for Sunday at 3 p.m. Sunday’s event will also feature a performance by Pitbull around 2 p.m. — and Ice Cube will perform during a race break.
The weekend’s racing marks the first time NASCAR has opened its schedule outside of Daytona Beach, Florida.
On Sunday, starting at noon, there will be four heat races and two last-chance qualifying races that will determine the field of 23 cars for the big race. Kyle Busch posted the fastest time during qualifying Saturday, completing a lap in his Toyota TRD Camry in 13.745 seconds, to earn the pole for the first qualifying heat.
Former L.A. Galaxy and U.S. men’s national soccer team star Cobi Jones will join Monica Palumbo as the in-stadium announcers, and former MTV host Riki Rachtman will serve as the host of NASCAR’s Fan Fest.
Sunday’s race will be televised live on Fox.
Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of strategy and innovation, said the switch from Daytona Beach to L.A. was two years in the making.
“We’ve been discussing the Clash for a while, and we’ve had it at the (Daytona) oval for a number of years,” he said. “Seeing that it’s an exhibition event, we looked at a number of different places and locations that we could host it at, and ultimately narrowed it down to the L.A. Coliseum.”
Kennedy said the relatively small quarter-mile track will have unusual and challenging dimensions and banking angles for drivers.
“You can only go so high, just because of the sight lines and the temporary construction, but we’ve played with a few different ones,” he said.
Tickets are on sale at www.nascar.com/lacoliseum. Access to the NASCAR Fan Fest, which offers interactive opportunities for fans, is included with all tickets.