Reportedly, NASCAR is considering moving the exhibition Busch Clash from Daytona International Speedway to the Los Angeles Coliseum for 2022. The event has traditionally opened Speedweeks at Daytona, which culminates with the Daytona 500. The move would follow NASCAR changing the Clash from Daytona’s superspeedway to the road course in 2021.
While this potential move would be another change to the schedule, something fans have pined for, would this move be a wise one? Brad Harrison and Mark Kristl debate in this edition of 2-Headed Monster.
It’s Time to Go Elsewhere
First and foremost, a staple of the early part of the NASCAR season is on life support through years of insanity — doing the same thing all over again to expect different results.
At its outset, the Busch Clash was a great novelty, being open only to that previous year’s pole winners. But once exceptions were made to make the field bigger, it became greatly diluted. Last year, for example, pole winners were joined by drivers from eligible categories that included past Busch Clash winners, the previous season’s NASCAR Cup Series race and stage winners, former Daytona 500 pole winners that ran full-time in the previous season and the previous season’s playoff drivers. It became not who’s in The Clash, but who isn’t.
Making the Busch Clash used to mean something. Instead, it became a Daytona-500 Lite over time that in many ways may as well have been a glorified testing session. Sure, running last year’s Busch Clash on the Daytona road course was a change, but doing so with a diluted field in the midst of Speedweeks amounted to putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging blood wound.
For that reason, it’s time for something totally different for the Busch Clash, something that goes beyond, “well, hey, let’s just put it on a road course,” or 15 years ago… “let’s make it a night race.”
It’s why the possibility of running the early-season staple in the LA Coliseum would make perfect sense, as would running the exhibition race at another unique venue.
With no points on the line, running a venue different from any other should not be an issue for teams and drivers. To be honest, what’s more appealing? A short sprint on an aero-sensitive track during a week span in which it’s just one part of many events, or making it the crown jewel of another event? Racing at a place like the LA Coliseum would be just that. It’d put the sport in front of eyeballs that usually wouldn’t be drawn to it, either in person or on social media.
And unlike the ill-advised move of the Southern 500 to Fontana, this move would not be swiping one of the longest-running crown jewel events of the sport. It’d only be a move of an exhibition race. Let’s put it this way — Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s career wasn’t complete when he won the Busch Clash. It was made so by winning the Daytona 500.
Does the stadium concept of racing sound bizarre? Maybe … but not if you clamor for what happens on Saturday nights at Bowman-Gray Stadium.
Some may decry this thinking as an insult to tradition. Those holding that opinion may want to consider this — that as recently as 1981, NASCAR’s top division started its season not at Daytona, but in Riverside, California.
Running the Busch Clash at Daytona has failed in recent years to generate season-opening excitement. Running somewhere other than Daytona would generate the opposite effect. The Busch Clash has run its course in Daytona, and it’s time for a new chapter. – Brad Harrison
NASCAR Already Restored the Clash Glory
Over the years, the Busch Clash lost its luster. What once was a fun mid-afternoon shootout morphed into a wreck-filled expensive day for team owners. But NASCAR rectified the problem by switching the course from the Daytona International Speedway superspeedway to the road course.
2020 was the final year NASCAR ran the Clash on the superspeedway. Erik Jones won it, but it was disastrous. Nearly a quarter of the laps (21 of 88) were run under the caution flag, and only six of the 18 drivers finished, with five on the lead lap. That’s not an exciting event, it’s a demolition derby on a 2.5-mile track.
NASCAR fixed that problem though. This year, the Clash occurred on the road course. Kyle Busch won after Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott collided on the final lap, and only one driver finished with a DNF. Under the lights on a Tuesday night, this Clash amped up the excitement leading into the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500.
The Clash regained some of its former glory, albeit with drivers making left and right-hand turns instead of the tight-knit pack racing. The weeknight event, if paired with the World Series of Asphalt at nearby New Smyrna Speedway, makes Daytona the host of a weeklong racing festival. More than a month after the New Year, the Clash hypes fans after a dreary January. The road course on a weeknight is the perfect venue for that.
NASCAR teams also benefit from having the Clash in Daytona. Approximately six-and-a-half hours away from the NASCAR hub in Charlotte, teams can travel to Daytona without traveling cross country spending exorbitant amounts of money. A weeknight race means team members can travel there during the day, able to sleep in their own beds on Monday night. It is a win for them.
For fans, a weeklong racing festival in Daytona means they can camp at the track, attend short track racing at New Smyrna, and enjoy all Daytona has to offer with the Clash, Daytona 500 qualifying, the Duels, and then the season-opening race weekend. Let’s keep the Clash at Daytona.
The Clash still has a problem though. Like this year’s All-Star Race, its format, participant eligibility, and rules are convoluted. NASCAR should simplify that, thereby making the racing itself the topic of conversation, not when a competition caution will fly, not detailing how each driver qualified for the event, etc.
Because it is an exhibition race, how about a basic format with all charter teams invited to participate? After all, if NASCAR wants these teams to perform at their best in the first race, why not allow them to practice in an exhibition?
Format should remain 35 laps because an hour and a half for an exhibition hold ones’ interest without becoming boring. No competition cautions, no stages, just strictly green flag racing with one caveat: each team must make a four-tire pit stop before there are 10 laps to go in the event. It is an exhibition after all – keep it simple.
Because NASCAR wants all drivers to give 100% in all events though, how about a bonus of one playoff point to the event winner? It will not guarantee the winner makes the playoffs, but that extra point could become beneficial during the playoffs.
An easy-to-understand formula with more competitors, so more on-track battles for position, on a weeknight under the lights at the Daytona road course? It is the perfect way to grab fans’ attention before the season gets underway.
A race at the LA Coliseum? What historic race is connected to it? None. Daytona – it is a place all race fans know, like Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Monaco Grand Prix.
Daytona hosts the Rolex 24, the season openers for the national NASCAR series and ARCA, the Cup Series regular-season finale and the Clash.
The LA Coliseum? It hosts the Rose Bowl and other football games. Let’s keep the racing at an actual racetrack and the football at the football stadium. – Mark Kristl
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The Clash should move to the dustbin of history, as should Speedweeks itself. Both are useless relics of another time.
First I’m hearing of this rumor. How would they race there? Would it be dirt? Do they pave it?
Stupid idea. It would cost a bunch of money for a race that has no purpose. The only reason it works at Daytona is because they are already there and at the track getting ready for The 500. I always watch it because it’s the first time I get to see cars on the track since November. Assuming it will still be run the week before the season kicks off, I will watch it no matter where it is run. Making everyone travel across the country for an exhibition race the week before The Daytona 500 is just moronic.
Is Brian Z back with NASCAR and coming up with this idea????
I’ve always wondered who sits in on the meetings that come up with these ideas. Just because the brain trust in Daytona says Emperor Brian is out of the picture doesn’t mean he isn’t still having an effect on their decisions. I hope he’s just drinking at home and not in a bar so he has to drive himself home in his Lexus. These have seemed like very Brian-like decisions.
It does seem like Brian is making decisions at Nascar. Either it’s him, or another Brian clone is an idiot. L.A. is one of the dumbest ideas I’ve ever heard. L.A. doesn’t care about Nascar one bit. Crossing the country right before the start of the year is not only costly, it’s insane.
You got that right!
Don’t forget he moved the Southern 500 to Fontana at the same time he was part of a group rumored to bring an NFL team back to LA.
This was the move that started the swirl down the drain. As dumb as it seemed then, it is more incomprehensible two decades later even with NASCAR’s makeup call.
I guess I don’t get the infatuation with the LA market. It is a horrible sports market given its size. The NFL was gone for two decades for a reason.
Maybe the cars can go over jumps and intentionally roll over like the monster trucks sounds like another s***t show im sure everyone will want to watch that
Moving the race to L.A. is a bad idea for many reasons. Dragging everyone all the way from Charlotte to California and back for this little race is just stupid. Then the track is going to be a very tight 1/4 mile. Way too tight with the SAFER barriers for any passing probably. It’s also in a shitty part of the city. When we raced in the Coliseum with the Mickey Thompson series we had to have people watching our gear every minute or it was gone. This is a horrible idea.
The LA Coliseum is co-owned by the State of California, the City of Los Angeles & the County of Los Angeles. The facility is operated by its master tenant, the University of Southern California. I wonder if NASCAR has actually approached these entities with details of their crazy plan yet? Dealing with a 4-headed bureaucracy in California would seem to be a daunting, long-lead time task? And has NASCAR considered the likelihood of an embarrassingly-small crowd scattered around the massive, 78K-seat Coliseum showing up in the blimp TV shot during this meaningless exhibition race?
Also, good point about the LA Coliseum being in a rough neighborhood. That was among the reasons the Rams once bolted to Anaheim and the Raiders returned to Oakland.
Absolutely!. Used to turn down free tickets from LA raider cheer leaders! Parking was terrible and it was 6 hours total in and out. Plus all your chrome off your vehicle gone after you paid them to park in their front yard!
I’ve never considered the crowd ever at Bowman-Gray in a “clamor”. Yes they are loud but I’ve never seen them confused. The fans there know exactly what is going on pretty much at all times. I love how these sports writers throw around descriptions, comparisons, and ideas about Bowman-Gray Stadium when probably 95% have never been there.
If they want to run the clash somewhere different, then run it at either Rockingham or North Wilkesboro…….
Go retro and just allow the pole winning drivers to run 50 laps at New Smyrna in super late models or modifieds (real race cars).
Great idea. New Symrna would put on a heck of a show and not stress the teams out with additional travel.
how many true “pole winners” have we had this year? i can’t remember the last time they had qualifying. i thought for sure they would had done that at daytona but nope.
You just can’t make this crap up.
Truth is stranger than fiction and the decisions since 2003 from the brain trust in Daytona are proof.
As Nancy Kerrigan so famously said, “Why, Why”. When the criteria changed from being a race for the previous year’s pole sitters to being whatever the hell it is today, it lost any tie back to competition. Run another exhibition race…All Star II? Improve the ratings by getting rid of both and get two more weeks less overlap with football. Capturing the interests of the west coast fans will require and electrified class. If you want to try to pander to the west coast, that’s what it will take. They also have DVR’s, so stop already with the late afternoon starts during the most likely times for rain.
You get your own opinion but not your own facts! The “Rose Bowl“ is a different venue. The Rose Bowl game is played in the Rose Bowl stadium, not the LA Coliseum.
For me, can’t wait to see them in the LA Coliseum. it’ll be a great follow up to seeing Cup cars race on dirt and in a river!