Huge commerce center is planned at Auto Club Speedway site, but racing action will continue | News

Plans are being made for most of the property now occupied by Auto Club Speedway in Fontana to be converted into a huge area for commercial development, but the speedway would still continue to be utilized for auto racing, according to San Bernardino County officials.

The proposed Speedway Commerce Center II Specific Plan, if finalized, would allow for the future development of about 433 acres of the approximately 522-acre site that is currently being used by the speedway.

Back in 2020, NASCAR had announced its intention to convert the speedway’s two-mile oval into a half-mile short track, but at the time there was no specific proposal for uses for the rest of the site, which is located in the unincorporated county area.

The short track proposal, called the Next Gen Project, includes the development of support facilities — such as entrance gates, paddock, garages, restrooms, and concession stands — along with parking, entrance, and landscaping improvements, said David Wert, a county spokesperson.

The Next Gen Project includes the retention of a portion of the existing grandstands and certain support facilities, including food service/concession areas, offices, suites, and entrance gates, Wert said.

“The County’s understanding is that not only would NASCAR racing continue pending NASCAR board approval of the Next Gen Project, but that it would improve with more competitive and popular short-track racing and create a more intimate racing venue with upgraded amenities and an enhanced fan experience,” Wert said.

The planned Auto Club Speedway race in early 2023 will still feature the existing two-mile track.

Reaction to the short track idea has been mixed, with some commenters on the speedway’s Facebook page liking the proposal but others wanting no changes.

According to plans, the Speedway Commerce Center would completely surround the short track area, which would comprise about 90 acres.

The Speedway Commerce Center would consist of the development of six separate planning areas with up to 6.6 million square feet of high-cube logistics and e-commerce uses with 261,360 square feet of ancillary commercial uses, and about 98 acres of parking fields/drop lot areas as well as ancillary open space to support the project, the county said.

The project site would also be developed with greenbelts, public roads, other support amenity features, and water detention areas.

Construction of the project, including recordation of final subdivision map(s) and design review, may be progressively implemented in stages, provided that vehicular access, public facilities, and infrastructure are constructed to adequately service the development, or as needed for public health and safety, the county said. However, the actual phasing sequence and timeframe may vary depending on market conditions, the county said.

The speedway first opened in 1997 and has hosted major races each year except for 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic caused a cancellation.

Smaller events associated with racing are held at the speedway throughout each year, but it is unknown whether all of those events would continue to take place if the Speedway Commerce Center and Next Gen Project are completed.

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