Wednesday 20th April 1994
Roger Penske and Kaiser announced the construction of a racetrack on the site of the abandoned Kaiser Steel mill in Fontana, California, US. A day after the announcement CART announced it would hold an annual race at the speedway. Three months later NASCAR President Bill France, Jr. agreed to sanction Winston Cup Series races at the California Speedway (Auto Club Speedway) upon completion, marking the first time NASCAR has made a commitment to run a race at a track that had yet to be built. Community meetings were held to discuss issues related to the construction of the track and the local effects of events held. The local community largely supported construction of the speedway citing potentially increased land values and rejuvenation of the community. In April 1995, after having toured the sister track Michigan International Speedway, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved the project. The California Environmental Protection Agency gave Penske permission to begin construction after Kaiser agreed to pay $6 million to remove hazardous waste from the site. Construction on the site began on November 22, 1995 with the demolition of the Kaiser Steel Mill. The 100-foot water tower, a landmark of the Kaiser property, was preserved in the center of the track to be used as a scoreboard. 3,000 cubic yards (2,300 m3) of contaminated dirt was removed and transported to a toxic waste landfill. To prevent remaining impurities from rising to the surface, a cap of non-porous polyethylene was put down and covered with 2 feet (0.61 m) of clean soil. Construction of the track was completed in late 1996.