California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Auto Club Speedway President Gillian Zucker, Automobile Club Of Southern California President Tom McKernan And Driver David Gilliland Celebrate
International Speedway Corporation and the Automobile Club of Southern California - the nation's largest member of the AAA federation - today unveiled details of a new partnership. At a trackside press conference, Speedway President Gillian Zucker and Auto Club CEO Tom McKernan announced the re-naming of the state's premier motorsports facility as the Auto Club Speedway of Southern California.
Zucker and McKernan cited the long history and proud tradition of motorsports in California, and the role their two organizations have played in making the Speedway the state's most popular sporting venue, with two NASCAR Sprint Cup races and other events attracting nearly 500,000 fans every year.
"The Automobile Club of Southern California does more than recognize the alignment of its brand with motorsports - Auto Club members are also race fans. So, this relationship was built to not only extend the Auto Club's brand exposure but also to provide a broad-reaching, positive impact at the track for race fans," Zucker said. "The Auto Club's commitment to its members and fans will be seen over the next ten years in facility improvements, fan promotions and cutting edge guest amenities. We believe this relationship is the start of a new era for motorsports in Southern California and we look forward to the day when one in every two households in Southern California has not just a member of Auto Club but a member of the Auto Club Speedway fan family."
The new partnership will place a premium on enhancing the fan experience at the Auto Club Speedway, with special initiatives aimed at Auto Club members, and a series of capital improvements that will make the racetrack more comfortable, accessible and enjoyable. Detailed plans are still being developed, but as soon as this year, fans can expect to see new escalators, increased shade, new misting zones, and new interactive fan-friendly elements incorporating new technologies.
"For more than 10 years the Auto Club has showcased its services to thousands of race fans at California Speedway. We now have a unique opportunity to expand that outreach and at the same time offer our members and all fans a world-class entertainment experience," said McKernan. "Auto racing is a part of the heritage of the Automobile Club of Southern California and we are pleased that we can build on that legacy and take the sport into the future through our relationship with International Speedway Corporation."
In outlining details of the partnership, McKernan also cited the Auto Club's commitment to promoting automobile and driver safety, and the high-profile platform auto racing provides to promote the organization's safe-driving initiatives and insurance offerings.
"By supporting motorsports we can reinforce the message that the only safe way to drive fast is if you are a professional on a racetrack," McKernan said. "This partnership is about more than sports, it also provides us with a unique venue to educate Californians about auto safety."
The Auto Club and its affiliated insurance company will use the Speedway facilities to expand development of automotive technology and driver safety initiatives. Activities will include testing at the Speedway to evaluate new automobile equipment and performance characteristics, and the opening of new Auto Club Teen and Mature Driver Schools at the track. The Auto Club Dragway, located on the north side of the Speedway facility, will continue as a site for the National Hot Rod Association street legal drag racing program, offering Southern Californians a safe alternative to illegal street racing.
Today's announcement is the culmination of a relationship that has spanned more than a decade. An original California Speedway corporate partner, the Auto Club's relationship with the Speedway began in 1997 with the Auto Club 200 Inaugural NASCAR Grand National West Series race. The company moved its sponsorship to the Saturday cup companion race in 1999 with the Auto Club 300 (now the Stater Bros 300), continuing with that event through the 2002 race. The Auto Club assumed the event title sponsorship of a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at California Speedway in 2003. In addition, the Auto Club became a naming rights partner at the track in 2005 through the naming of the Auto Club Dragway, the Speedway's quarter-mile dragstrip.