In 1997, an innovative idea was formed – the idea to combine a racing event with an event to pay tribute to the nation’s military, and additionally get more exposure for the Navy within the community of San Diego.
The event would be called the Coronado Speed Festival, and vintage cars from around the country would race at Naval Air Station North Island, on a track that was created in days – a spectator-friendly 1.7 mile course, constructed on the runways and taxiways of the military base. Over the course of two days, race fans, San Diegans and other interested parties would watch different race groups zoom around the track, all while stepping back in time to enjoy auto racing’s rich history, with tours of the racecar pits and the ability to speak with the drivers of these unique machines. Car Enthusiasts can also visit the Car Club Corral, which shows off a variety of automobiles that range in age, make and model.
The first event took place in October of 1997. The Holiday Bowl, a non-profit organization whose mission is to generate tourism, exposure, economic benefit and civic pride for San Diego and its citizens by producing the nation’s most exciting bowl game and festival of events. The partnership seemed to be a perfect fit, not only in that the group and the organization’s mission were similar. The event then transitioned to be part of Fleet Week San Diego. Fleet Week is a US Navy, US Marine Corps, and US Coastguard tradition focused on honoring the men and women of the military.
It seemed to all involved at that time to be a great fit as Fleet Week San Diego has a direct connection to the military, and the Coronado Speed Festival is an event to pay tribute and honor the military. The event is still housed under Fleet Week San Diego, and is the marquee event of the month-long activities.