West coast short track racing will receive a huge boost April 20th this year with the opening of the new 1/2-mile paved Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, California. Folks in the area have had to wait since 2005 to see local short track action after the closing of Mesa Marin Raceway. Mesa Marin was one of a series of west coast short tracks to be closed down in recent times. Other tracks include Silver State Raceway in Carson City, NV, Saugus Speedway in Santa Clarita, CA and Altamont Raceway Park in Tracy, CA among several other sites.
The opening of KCRP should be a huge boon to the entire west coast, not just the Bakersfield area. Mesa Marin Raceway was long considered the crown jewel of the west and while Irwindale Speedway is a first-class facility, KCRP will most definitely take the crown that Mesa Marin wore for so long. Some of the amenities at the new speedway include a paved infield pit area, an access tunnel in turns one and two, 12 VIP suites and TV-quality MUSCO lighting. Added to that is the fact that KCRP is just off Interstate-5. This raises the question of KCRP potentially obtaining a date in one of NASCAR’s top three series.
Many fans would likely argue that the west coast doesn’t need another date on any of NASCAR’s premiere series but keep in mind that NASCAR has not held a west-coast short track date in any of its top three series since the Camping World Truck Series visited tracks like Mesa Marin in 2003. The potential for a Sprint Cup Series date at KCRP is likely out of the question while a Nationwide Series race is only slightly more likely. However given the truck series’ history, a KCRP date would be a perfect marriage. Southern California is the birthplace of the Camping World Truck Series after all.
A Camping World Truck Series date likely would not be a viable option until 2015 at the earliest but the potential to bring the series back to a short track in the west is very promising and something that would be positive for fans, NASCAR and KCRP.