The Ontario Motor Speedway (the Big “O”) was designed as a replica of the 2.5 mile racetrack at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
It also had an infield road course and a drag strip to maximize racing events. Designed by Walter Ted Tyler at a cost of
$25.5 million, it opened on Sept. 3, 1970 with the inaugural California 500 on Sept. 6. This Labor Day event was to complement
the Indy 500 traditionally held on Memorial Day. A second race, the Questor Grand Prix, was held in March 1971 and won by
Mario Andretti. 86 separate days of racing, qualifying and practice for championship, sport, stock and drag races was anticipated
with over one million persons in attendance per year.
Although races were held each year, the actual monies coming in were below expectations. The management tried to improve
attendance with three rock concerts – the California Jams I, II and III. Talks took place with promoters of the Expo ’81,
a world’s fair-type extravaganza with pavilions on the racetrack grounds.
By 1980, the track management company was bankrupt and the City of Ontario sold the property for $10 million to the Chevron
Land Management Company. The track was demolished in 1981 at a cost of $3 million. Subsequent development, most recently
the Piemonte mixed-use development of condominiums, offices and retail stores and the Citizens Business Bank Arena has largely
covered the old racetrack grounds. Echoes still remain in the area’s street signs however: Concours Drive, Mercedes, Ferrari
and Triumph Lanes, Porsche Way, Dusenberg and Corvette Drives, Lotus Ave, Shelby Street, Jaguar Way.