Last week I covered the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction and it was another great experience with incredible cars, my friends and getting a chance to take my son around WestWorld of Scottsdale and show him what I do for a living. After a week of being at the auction I returned to the office and did my automotive journalist duties for a few days. It was short stay in the cubicle and by Friday morning I was back on the road with a much longer drive than my Phoenix to Scottsdale odyssey, and headed to Los Angeles to cover the NASCAR Clash at the Coliseum.
The opportunity for a funky adventure came suddenly, and with the support of my family I hit the road at 5:15 a.m. on Friday with six-hours of road tripping ahead of me. I was excited. It was my first opportunity to cover a NASCAR race away from my home track of Phoenix Raceway (it was always be Phoenix International Raceway to me, but I was trained with an AP Style Guide and must comply to the nomenclature) and it was at a great venue not intended for motorsports.
The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum hosted the Olympics twice and is the home of USC football. I’ve been there once before for a USC vs Virginia game many years back and it was a big deal to me. It’s a stadium with a rich sports history and it’s generally just a cool looking venue. It was never intended for NASCAR but engineers and folks with greater minds than me make it work, and now it’s quarter-mile oval with minimal banking. First the Hoover Dam and now stock racing on a football field; engineering is pretty cool even though I have no idea how they set up this venue for the NASCAR Cup Series.
It was a long drive from Phoenix to L.A. and podcasts by Bomani Jones and Bill Simmons provided the soundtrack. By the early afternoon I was in L.A. and making my way to a press conference at the 1923 Club at the Coliseum. The presser was for the Fox Sports crew that is announcing the Clash and they offered their opinions on the race, state of NASCAR and poked fun at Clint Bowyer in a nice way. “We were all having lunch and we were talking about a certain topic and I said, ‘I never knew you were this smart’. I mean, I don’t know what happened, but he’s super smart,” Tony Stewart said about Bowyer in the press conference. It was a light press conference and a great way to arrive in Los Angeles for a race.
With the Coliseum and downtown L.A. as a backdrop it was a great venue for a press conference but I was gassed out. I had a long stretch covering the auction, combined with an early rise and a six-hour drive and those factors led to a tired DPC but alas, it was a great press conference and pretty dope to see NASCAR journalists in person, as opposed to TV. (Full disclosure: I am a bit overwhelmed with the pomp and circumstance of the event, but in a good way. I belong here, I’m a journalist and right now I seem to be invoking the self-peptalk perfected by Stewart Smalley.)
The press conference ended and I walked around 1923 Club at the top of the L.A. Coliseum to take in the scene and the views of downtown. A race in downtown L.A. with Cypress Hill, and Wiz Khalifa reporting was never on the radar when I began watching NASCAR in the early 2000s. The sport is evolving and changing a good way. Inclusion is everywhere at the L.A. Coliseum, and the sport is becoming diverse with drivers like Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace and previously Danica Patrick. It takes a while to change a culture and NASCAR is evolving in a great way. It’s a great thing to see and the Clash at the Coliseum shows how far NASCAR has come.