Back in the old days as the interstate highway system was being constructed, there was a phenomenon that would occur with small towns. If the highway went through the town or directly adjacent to it, things would be prosperous and growth would begin almost immediately. If the highway went away from the town and carried what little local traffic they were getting on secondary roads, the place was pretty much doomed. You can still see the remains of such places, particularly out west. Well, long story short, the racing highway just diverted itself away from Chicagoland Speedway and Rt 66 Raceway in Joliet, Illinois. We’re of the believe that it’s unlikely either place will ever host another big league, little league, or any league racing event again.
NASCAR will be announcing their schedule today and it will not include the venue outside of Chicago that has been hosting races on the tour since 2001. The 1.5-mile oval had been lagging in spectator count for several years and didn’t really deliver a lot of the action that new NASCAR management is trying to rekindle. Events like increased road courses and covering the Bristol track with dirt in 2021 are more the direction of the series.
NHRA drag racing has happened at Rt 66 Raceway since 1998 and for a time, two national events a year were the order of the day at the cavernous drag strip. The home of the Jeg’s All-Stars and the Rt 66 Nationals, the track is a great surface and a first class facility, no doubt. It has also struggled to draw fans for the last few years and quite simply, the drag strip and the speedway are dependent on the same pool of employee to operate and the drag strip cannot function without the speedway being open.
The major wrinkle here is that NASCAR owns these facilities. They were IMS tracks before NASCAR decided to take a $1.5-billion dollar loan last year to buy all the stock and bring the company “home”. Because this is a company owned facility being bypassed for 2021 (and beyond?) we have absolutely zero realistic expectation that either the drag strip or the speedway will ever open again for competition.