LOS ANGELES — Matt Humphrey, director of track communications for NASCAR, said he has a deep appreciation for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

“You walk into this place, you can just feel the 100 years of sporting history that has taken place here,” said Humphrey, standing atop the Coliseum’s Peristyle—the large deck that sits in front of the stadium’s famous arched entrance and just below the Olympic torch.

What You Need To Know

  • This is the first time NASCAR is racing inside a sports venue not dedicated to race cars

  • The racetrack is a quarter-mile asphalt oval paved over the USC football team’s home field

  • It took NASCAR crews about three weeks to install the track and specially-built walls and fencing

  • NASCAR has to have the Coliseum back to its original state just two weeks after the checkered flag falls

He then listed some of the venue’s notable events.

“Two Olympic Games, the Super Bowl, the World Series,” said Humphrey. “His Holiness John Paul II held mass in this stadium.”

Humphrey has a driver’s seat view of another historical milepost at the Coliseum. And it’s a historical marker for NASCAR. This is the first time the sanctioning body will hold a race inside a sports stadium.

“This facility — it just oozes history,” Humphrey said. “And now NASCAR is going to be a part of it. Wow.”

"The Clash at the Coliseum" will run on Feb. 6, just a little over two weeks before NASCAR hosts its season-opening Daytona 500, over 2,000 miles away on the other side of the country.

Humphrey says this race, which will run on a small quarter-mile track built on the Coliseum’s floor, runs along NASCAR’s roots. Long before today’s two-plus-mile “Superspeedways,” many of the sport’s early races were staged on small, dusty, dirt tracks in the southeast called “bullrings.”

“But putting (this race) in the middle of a major metropolitan area, this is the first time we’ve done this in the modern era," Humphrey said.

Marty Flugger was tasked with turning the USC football team’s home field into a racetrack. Flugger, an engineer, is NASCAR’s head of track design and development. This was a first for him as well.

“I never built a track or a road on top of a field of grass,” said Flugger, as he walked down what is now a paved “front stretch.”

“So, what we have right here, where I’m standing, is close to 4 ½ feet of (dirt) from where the actual field used to be," Flugger said.

But before workers added over 9,000 cubic yards of dirt and crushed rock, they put down three acres of plastic sheeting, and then three acres of plywood on top of that. Then a local paving company smeared several inches of asphalt across the entire floor of the Coliseum to craft a racetrack, banked at a precise 2.5 degrees.

Flugger’s crew had to install everything a permanent race track would need to host a NASCAR event. They erected large concrete-and-steel “SAFER” barriers, or walls, that can withstand the impact of 3,200-pound stock cars traveling at over 120 mph. They put up 1,400 feet of catch fencing to protect the crowd.

They also buried electronic “scoring loops” at various places around the track.

Flugger says his crew accomplished all this in just three weeks.

“And we lost about a week and a half because of some wet weather,” said Flugger.

The original playing surface is still there. Even though the Coliseum’s staff will re-sod the grass after the event, NASCAR was told to take great care of the playing surface. And the Coliseum’s operators gave them an early checkout time. NASCAR has to have the Coliseum completely cleaned up just two weeks after the checkered flag flies.

Because it’s not long before the next flag falls.

“Before we take the green flag for the Daytona 500, this track will be gone and the Coliseum will go about its normal everyday business," Humphrey said.

The Coliseum will hold a rugby tournament just a week after NASCAR walks out the door. And, at the end of February, NASCAR returns to Southern California to host a race at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway.