Chicagoland Speedway and Rt 66 Raceway Will Not Host Racing Events In 2021, Ever Again?

Chicagoland Speedway and Rt 66 Raceway Will Not Host Racing Events In 2021, Ever Again?

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.

Rough stuff.

Story: Chicagoland Speedway, Rt 66 Racway won’t host races in 2021 

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5 thoughts on “Chicagoland Speedway and Rt 66 Raceway Will Not Host Racing Events In 2021, Ever Again?

  1. KCR

    I live near these tracks. I have never been to any NASCAR events there. However I have been to a lot of the drag racing events. Its an unbelievable place. Great seating and the suites are outstanding. However, the thing that always struck me as odd. They never had a weekly schedule. It was only a few big events. Perhaps 6 or 8 per year,that’s it. I always thought with a place like this. And 30 mins. from down town Chicago. Why wouldn’t you have some thing every weekend. Byron and Greatlakes . An hour north and west of Chicago. Have special stuff going on all the time. With packed crowds.The rumer mill in the area says , and has for a few years. They will make the drag strip into a corporate air port.And keep the oval track open. We all know NASCAR and NHRA are both circling the drain . This is a shame , great place to watch a drag race.

  2. greg

    I live 30 minutes from the track. It seemed it always struggled to attract spectators. At an NMCA/NMRA race a few years ago I counted 15 people in the stands. Byron and Great Lakes will get 100s for an average non event weekend. Last year for the Nationals we went for Saturday qualifying. Even for the evening nitro racing it was maybe a quarter full.
    Why didn’t this place have weekly events? I’m sure it costs a fortune just to turn the lights on but I felt a Sunday race might attract new fans with cheap ticket prices. It seemed the racers from the city went to US41 which isn’t nearly as nice as Rt. 66 and quite a bit farther so it seemed to me they’d rather go to 66 if it had an event.
    I’m certain some will blame this on the pandemic, which certainly didn’t help, but this has seemed inevitable for a while.

  3. tracey

    The place had great crowds during the early years when the original group that built it were in charge.After NASCAR bought the property it went in the hole.

    Sad to see the strip go, IDC about the oval, but poor management gets these results.

  4. David

    An insider, I shot the breeze with, a couple months ago, said the property taxes went through the roof. The property has increased in value, 10 fold.

    Add to the fact…the track is literally, in the middle of nowhere. You have to, go over a river, under the railroad tracks, past grandma’s house, and dodge potholes, to get arrive at the track.

  5. joe scavo

    I’m sure it will become a super size warehouse like most open areas that are close to the highways around the Chicagoland Area. Plus, the property is close to a major rail yard. The main problem with this place is that they never really put a large effort into putting together some really good shows, plus the prices are always too high. At one point they were charging $8 for a bottle of water and you couldn’t bring in your own food to even their mediocre events. There must be something else going on behind the scenes. That is the only drag strip that I’ve ever been to where the announcer was urging people not to leave bc of the long down times. Sure, slow street cars can be boring, but its still filler. As a racer, their test and tune nights where run poorly. I had never raced at bracket race there, so I can’t comment on that. If they had taken a page from Bill Bader Jr, that place would have been a different story. They need sponsors to put money into some good programs there. You can’t rely on entry fees to do that. I won’t be surprised if it closes. I bet the taxes are super high, and there are probably other factors that drive up the cost to operate the place, which hinder anyone putting on a good show there. You would think more people would be into car racing, but they’re just not anymore. Also, when you compare that much seating to Byron or Great Lakes, it will always appear mostly empty.

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