NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash Auto Race at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum- Won by Martin Truex Jr.

0
1292

The 75th Anniversary, 2023 season-opening celebration of NASCAR’s Busch Light Clash Auto Race was at the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and was held on Sunday, Feb. 5. Now it Heads to DAYTONA! This race once again featured the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series competing on a temporary, quarter-mile asphalt track nestled inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It’s one of the many anticipated events taking place this year as a part of the venue’s centennial anniversary celebration – “Coliseum Forever.” Joey Logano won the inaugural event en route to winning the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

It was an exciting weekend for racing fans. On Friday, NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie gave media pace car(in above photo)rides. The first ride went to legendary USC quarterback Matt Leinart, who’s now a college football analyst for FOX. In the below photo Matt is on the left, and Corey is on the right: 

Then on 3PM Saturday the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series had their NASCAR Cup Series practice, followed by Busch Light Pole Award qualifying at 5:30 p.m. The gates opened for fans at Noon, which included access to an expanded fan fest!

On Sunday, the gates opened at 10 a.m. and heat races began at 2 p.m., that was followed by an amazing performance by Cypress Hill. And then shortly after 5 p.m., Rob Lowe gave the command to “Start Your Engines” and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams waved the green flag for the main event. Wiz Khalifa gave an excellent performance during the mid-race break, and DJ trio Cheat Codes kept the party going during the caution breaks. 

This year NASCAR Drivers Pedaled for Medals, for a NASCAR first: the top-three finishers were awarded gold, silver and bronze medals! The medal ceremony was on a podium in Victory Lane, which is located beneath the Olympic cauldron at the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy, presented the medals to cap this historic event. “These will be tremendous prizes for our drivers who are competing inside a venue that’s hosted two Olympic Games and is preparing for a third,” Kennedy said. “Not only do the medals honor the rich tradition of this stadium, but they also provide a special element unique to NASCAR’s 75th anniversary.” Jostens produced these exquisite medals, along with the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Trophy that was presented to the winner of the season-opening exhibition. Each custom-crafted keepsake features the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum logo beautifully embossed on one side. The other side features the Coliseum’s centennial mark and the NASCAR 75th Anniversary logo. The race winner’s medal weighs 4.7 ounces and is covered in 24-karat plated gold. It will certainly gleam beneath the Coliseum lights and iconic flame that towers above the temporary, quarter-mile asphalt track: 

The Coliseum marks the 45th running of the annual non-points exhibition race, with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum serving as just the third venue for the event since its inception in 1979.  Richard Childress Racing in the Clash… Richard Childress Racing has earned nine wins in the Clash, six by Dale Earnhardt (1980, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1993, and 1995) and three by Kevin Harvick (2009, 2010 and 2013). In last season’s inaugural event at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Austin Dillon led RCR with a third-place finish. In the below photo Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, and Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford, race during the 2023 Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 

This year Martin Truex Jr. picked up the victory in the 2023 Wild Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum, holding off Richard Childress Racing teammates Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon. The race started on this 1/4 mile track just after 5PM, running for 150 laps (37.5 Miles) in front of a large, enthusiastic crowd in one of the most iconic venues in sports. Martin Truex Jr. earned his first NASCAR Cup Series victory in more than a season in a rough-and-tumble all-thrills Busch Light Clash! Truex’s No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota held off Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet by a mere .786-second leading the final 25 laps of the 150-lap annual non-points exhibition event marking the start of the NASCAR season. It was the former series champion Truex’s first career Busch Light Clash victory. The below photo is from the post-race press conference with Martin Truex Jr. :

Dillon’s new teammate, two-time series champion Kyle Busch finished third in the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet – the three top-finishers feted on a podium with medals; reminiscent of the Olympic Games the venue has also famously hosted. “Just really good race car, the guys did a really good job with this Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry,” the New Jersey native Truex said, “Last year was a pretty rough season for us with no wins, to come out here and kick it off this way, just really proud of these guys. “Tonight, was just kind of persevere, not give up and just battle through and we found ourselves in the right spot at the end. Sometimes they work out your way and sometimes they don’t. Tonight, it went our way.”  In the below photo: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, (C) winner, Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Chevrolet, (L) second place and Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 8 BetMGM Chevrolet, third place pose for photos on the podium after the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum: 

The iconic HOLLYWOOD sign on the hills overlooking Turn 3 and the downtown Los Angeles skyline just beyond Turn 2 provided a unique setting to this event. It was a packed house at the 100-year-old Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for the race – lots of new fans mixed with the most loyal long-timers dressed in their best NASCAR fan t-shirts, driver jackets and hats excited to watch the NASCAR Cup Series show exactly the kind of high-drama short track action that has made the 75-year-old sport an American treasure. 

The track was purpose-built inside the stadium bringing the sport to a new market, which appears to have whole-heartedly embraced. And while this may be a pre-season exhibition, frustration was often in mid-season form Sunday night. The race was slowed 16 times for cautions. Dillon had a late race run-in with Bubba Wallace, their cars colliding. Wallace got the worst end of the contact and was knocked from contending for the win to instead finishing 22nd in the 27-car field – despite leading 40 laps and challenging Truex as the race wound down. “Obviously, Bubba knocked me through the corner,” Dillon said. “I was going to hit him back. Didn’t mean to turn him like that but when it gets down to the end, I think everybody knows what’s going on and that’s what you see at places like this and [North Carolina short track] Bowman Gray Stadium.” Dillon acknowledged that Wallace may be upset with him and said they would talk.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five. Tyler Reddick was sixth in his debut in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota.  New Englander Ryan Preece, 32, making his first start in the No. 41 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing led the most laps (43) but fell back with 24 laps to go, telling his crew there was some sort of electrical problem. He finished seventh. Denny Hamlin, who won his Heat Race earlier in the day in his No. 11 JGR Toyota, finished ninth with driver William Byron in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet rounding out the top 10.

The four Heat and two Last Chance Qualifier races Sunday afternoon provided plenty of drama in setting the field for the Main Event under the lights – and under the fire of the Coliseum’s famed peristyle (torch). Both RFK Racing Fords – driven by team co-owner Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher were among the eight cars that didn’t qualify. Joining the RFK drivers on that list of DNQs are Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Harrison Burton, Ty Dillon, Corey LaJoie, Cody Ware, J.J. Yeley and B.J. McLeod.

There was a new Qualifying Format for 2023… Although 36 drivers made the cross-country trek to California to attempt to win at the legendary Los Angeles venue, only 27 made it through to the 150 lap main event. Each driver was given three chances to qualify for the feature. There was four heat races (25 laps each) consisting of 10 drivers each. The top five finishers in each heat advanced to run in the main event, filling 20 positions on the final grid. Positions 21 through 26 in the starting lineup was set by drivers that have raced their way in by finishing in the top-three in either of the two last chance qualifier races (50 laps each). The 27th and final position in the main event was reserved for the driver who finished the highest in the 2022 Cup Series season point standings who did not transfer on finishing position in the heat races or last chance qualifier races. 

During the race break Multi-platinum selling, Grammy and Golden Globe nominated recording artist Wiz Khalifa(see above photo)gave a great performance during the race break of the 2023 Busch Light Clash. “Wiz Khalifa is a gifted and talented performer with a worldwide following,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy.  Wiz Khalifa burst onto the scene with the release of his first major label debut album, ‘Rolling Papers’‎ in 2011. Since then Wiz has been nominated for two GRAMMY Awards and a Golden Globe Award, won “Best New Artist” at the BET Awards and “Top New Artist” at the Billboard Music Awards, and landed a No. 1 album on Billboard’s Top 200 chart. He has collaborated with The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Charlie Puth, Bruno Mars, Imagine Dragons, Juicy J, TM88, Girl Talk, Big K.R.I.T., and more. Wiz’s business ventures include; Packed Bowls by Wiz Khalifa, a ghost kitchen delivery-only restaurant, gin line McQueen and The Violet Fog, and he’s also an investor and ambassador in the Professional Fighters League. Last year, Wiz released his full-length solo album Multiverse to rave reviews, as well as Multiverse (Deluxe). He also toured North America on his The Vinyl Verse Tour co-headlining with LOGIC. This spring, fans will see Khalifa portray funk icon George Clinton in the major motion picture “Spinning Gold,” which is about the legendary Casablanca Records label, to be released in theaters on March 31, 2023.  “The NASCAR cars will bring the noise, and I’ll bring the party,” Khalifa had said. “We’re going to have a great time celebrating together at the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, and I can’t wait to see everybody there.”  In the below photo: Rappers Sen Dog (R) and B-Real of Cypress Hill perform prior to the Busch Light Clash at The Coliseum at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:

Hip-Hop legends Cypress Hill (see above and below photos) gave a awesome pre-race performance prior to the main event, which you can see in the show, along with Wiz Khalifa. 

Rob Lowe: the world-renowned actor, Award Winner, author and podcaster was the Grand Marshal for the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, and said: “DRIVER’S START YOUR ENGINES!” before the first race of NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season to set the stage for an evening to remember at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. All the action was shown live on FOX, where Lowe currently stars in and produces the highly acclaimed 911: Lone Star. It has been consistently one of the top-rated shows in all of television, and Season 4 premieres this month. “This is shaping up to be another incredible event in the heart of Los Angeles,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy. “Rob Lowe’s body of work is nothing short of remarkable, and we can’t wait for him to begin the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in style.” Lowe’s presence adds to an already star-studded lineup that includes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Caleb Williams as Honorary Starter, performances by Cypress Hill and Wiz Khalifa, and, of course, the stars and cars of the NASCAR Cup Series.  His iconic career spans four decades in film, television, and theater, making him one of the most recognizable artists on screen today. 

To date, Lowe has been nominated for two Emmys, six Golden Globes, and four Screen Actors Guild awards in which he won two. He has starred in the ‘80s classics “St. Elmo’s Fire”, “About Last Night, and “The Outsiders”, as well as television classics such as “The West Wing” and “Parks and Recreation.” His incredibly diverse career also includes scene-stealing work in “Behind the Candelabra,” “Austin Powers” and “Tommy Boy.” His two memoirs, Stories I Only Tell My Friends and Love Life are both New York Times Best Sellers. He took his first memoir and made it into a touring show called Stories I Only Tell My Friends: Live! which has received rave reviews throughout the country and sold out in London. In 2020, Lowe launched his podcast “Literally! With Rob Lowe,” a podcast of irreverent yet thoughtful conversations with leaders in the world of business and entertainment like Oprah, Chris Pratt, Gwyneth Paltrow, Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Aniston, Magic Johnson, and others. After a successful first year, it returned for a second season which premiered fall 2021 and a third season began summer 2022. Around the same time, Lowe launched another podcast, “Parks and Recollection.” Co-hosted with showrunner Alan Yang, the podcast is a behind the scenes look at each episode of the celebrated comedy classic “Parks and Recreation.” He also wrapped production on Netflix comedy “Unstable” from Victor Fresco alongside his son, John Owen Lowe. Fresco along with both Lowes co-created the show and will all serve as executive producers. Rob & John Owen will also star. The series is inspired by their social media relationship where John Owen often hilariously trolls his dad.  Lowe has been married to jewelry designer, Sheryl Lowe, since 1991. They have two sons, Matthew and John Owen.

The NASCAR Cup Series next moves east to Florida for the Feb. 19 regular season-opening DAYTONA 500 at the Daytona International Speedway (Sunday, Feb. 19, 2:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).  

The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, a living memorial to all who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War I, has been a civic treasure for generations of Angelenos.  Located in the Exposition Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA, the Coliseum is a 77,500 capacity multi-purpose stadium which opened in 1923. Home to the USC Trojans: The legendary stadium has been named as one of the nation’s 40 best stadiums to experience college football by Sporting News, and ranked USC football at the Coliseum as the nation’s No. 3 stadium experience by StadiumJourney.com.  Following a recent renovation in 2019, the stadium is now home to a newly added seven-story suite and press tower which includes luxurious suites, loge boxes, club seats, a new press box, and the rooftop 1923 Club with a 360-degree view of the Los Angeles basin; along with several upgrades including new seating, updated technology and concession stands, additional food options for guests, and much more. 

The legacy of events and individuals hosted in nine-plus-decades reads like no other, including  the only venue to host two Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and the Track and Field Competition for the Summer Olympics (Xth Olympiad in 1932, XXIIIrd Olympiad in 1984) and soon a third (XXXIVth Olympiad in 2028)- in the below photos you can see me in the iconic tunnel that the Marathon runners- run through to finish the Olympic 26 mile race, and the view they see as the enter the stadium- which is now a 1/4 auto racing track, changed from a 1/4 mile running track:  

home to college football’s USC Trojans since 1923 and the UCLA Bruins (1928-1981);  professional football’s Los Angeles Rams (1946-1979 and 2016-2019); appearances by U.S. Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan; and international dignitaries such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Pope John Paul II, the Dalai Lama, and Nelson Mandela, to name a few. Additionally, the Coliseum, designated a National Historic monument in 1984, has hosted some of the greatest acts in entertainment, including Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones, of which I was lucky enough to be present at to watch all 4 concerts of each of these legendary performers! Also Pink Floyd, Prince, and many more.

A very special thanks to our Entertainment & Sports Today TV news crew of (Left to Right):  Reporter: Kurt Rockwell, Cameraman: Richard Marcella, and Producer: Steve Taylor, from the press suites over looking the racetrack:

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here