NASCAR Fontana Party Fans Guide
Budweiser Block Party, Bands & The Infield
People pack the Budweiser pre-race block party that includes foot and tickets for $99.
It's not all Lakers, Angeles, Dodgers, UCLA basketball or USC football when it comes to sports in Southern California.
Or even surfing or beach volleyball.
There's also a bit of Southern sweet tea in Southern California, and it's in the form of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana. The 2013 race is March 22-24 with a whole weekend of activities.
The Budweiser Block Party starts race day off right for these girls.
NASCAR comes to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana each March.
Auto Club (California) Speedway waves the green flag to start a party, and the best bargain is the Budweiser Block Party. For $99, fans get a ticket to the race, breakfast and lunch on race day plus access to a private Budweiser beer garden. It holds 1,200 people and sells out each year.
The atmosphere before the race is like a mini concert.
The Bud girls pose alone in the Bud party tent.
People gather around to get their picture with the Bud girls.
There's a concert by a name band – ZZ Top, Foreigner, Styx and Sammy Hagar have performed in the past – that starts at 10:30 in the morning (the race is usually at noon) and it's surrounded by beer stands, food stations, the ever-populr Bud girls who pose for photos both inside and out of the Bud tent. Additionally there are race car show cars, where people line up to get their picture made with it, the obligator souvenir stands and even a secondary stage with more live music.
A main pre-race draw are the Budweiser Clydesdales.
Wander under the infield tunnel, walk over the foot bridge and take your photo with the Budweiser Clydesdales, the beer company's famous horse brigade. Stay there long enough and one almost expects a Super Bowl commercial to break out at any moment.
By buying a pit pass, fans can walk in the pits.
Things are relaxed in the pits before the race, but it changes when the race starts.
One cool add-on to any ticket is the pit pass, which grants access to the actual NASCAR pits before the race. Understandably, this is a highly desirable addition to the race-day experience. It's even possible to see the driver themselves waking to the introductions before the start of the race. It's like being on the court for a Lakers game and perhaps even giving a high-five to Kobe Bryant.
And you don't have to be Jack Nicholson to do it. Jack of All Trades does nicely here.
The massive race track – a two-mile oval in the Inland Empire about 45 minutes from downtown Los Angeles – hosts auto racing's premier series and stars. It brings in approximately 100,000 race fans who do exactly what they do in the NASCAR hotbeds of Daytona, Charlotte and Talladega: Watch racin' and drink beer. GA tickets start as cheap as $35.
And then there is...the infield
Ahh, the infield. It's as NASCAR as driver feuds.
This is where motorhomes pull up and spread out to spend the weekend. It's as much social as it is sport, as much everlasting as it is Earnhardt.
At Fontana, there are a couple hundred motorhomes set up in what is part college football tailgate and part Jimmy Buffett concert. There are BBQs, plasma TVs and tiki and other bars set up throughout the area.
The most casual place to watch the race is atop a motorhome in the infield
Motorhomes provide a different perspective of the race than the grandstands.
Some people decorate their motorhomes as if they are at a Buffett concert.
And, in the land of the automobile, there are also trams that take infielders from one motorhome party to another. Considering the crowd here, it's kind of like a Southern-fried amusement park, a redneck Universal Studios tour. Anyone who doubts this should simply disembark at Redneck Blvd., and Dale Earnhardt Drive.
And when the day is over on Friday and Saturday, "infielders" have the Budwieser Oasis party tent in which to go party.
This infield party can - and does – last late into the night.
So that's the party scene on NASCAR at Auto Club Speedway. For tickets and more information, the venue's website is: www.autoclubspeedway.com.