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Chicagoland Speedway History

Address: 500 Speedway Blvd.
Joliet, IL 60433

Chicagoland Speedway, located in Joliet, Ill., is only 40 miles from the birthplace of automobile racing in America. What? You thought the cradle of racing in this country was Indianapolis or Daytona? You thought racing’s roots only ran into the Appalachian Mountains of the Carolinas and Georgia? Well, as they say, you can look it up.

The first automobile race between gasoline-powered vehicles ever held in the United States actually took place on Nov. 28, 1895, when six cars left Jackson Park in Chicago for a 54-mile race to Evanston, Ill., and back in the snow. Frank Duryea took just more than 10 hours, averaging 7.3 mph, to win the race and earn $2,000.

How things have changed. When Tony Stewart won the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in July 2004, his winnings were $336,803.

Chicagoland Speedway’s history begins with nine Illinois entrepreneurs and their work to built Route 66 Raceway, a complex featuring a drag strip and dirt oval named after Route 66, the legendary highway nicknamed the “mother road” that stretched from Chicago to California.

The next step was an informal meeting in 1995 between NASCAR president Bill France Jr. and Indy Racing League founder Tony George. Their discussions centered on the idea of bringing a paved oval to the metropolitan Chicago area. After several years of searching for sites, the idea of building Chicagoland Speedway on a site adjacent to the Route 66 complex took shape.

The idea became a reality in 2001, when NASCAR brought its Cup and Busch Series to Chicagoland Speedway to being a new era of racing in the Midwest’s biggest city. It was not, however, the first race in NASCAR’s top series held in the Chicago era. On July 21, 1956, what was then called the NASCAR Grand National Series ran a 200-lap race on a half-mile paved oval at Chicago’s legendary Solider Field, which after several renovations still serves as the home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears. Fireball Roberts won that race, beating runner-up Jim Paschal in the field of 25 cars.

Today’s Chicagoland Speedway has 18-degree banking in its turns. The 2,400-foot frontstretch has 11 degree banking and the backstretch, which runs 1,700 feet, is banked at 5 degrees. It takes NASCAR’s top drivers less than 30 seconds to speed around its 1.5 miles in qualifying trim - Jeff Gordon set a track record in qualifying for the 2004 Tropicana 400 at 28.886 seconds, an average speed of 186.942 mph.

Kevin Harvick won the first two Cup series races at Chicagoland Speedway, with Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart following him to the winner’s circle. Jimmie Johnson, Johnny Sauter, Bobby Hamilton Jr. and Justin Labonte have won Busch Series race at Chicagoland Speedway.

The state-of-the-art facility offers great sight lines for the 75,000 fans who get tickets to a race at Chicagoland Speedway. The cornfields that surround the track provide a picturesque background in a setting that belies that fact that one of America’s greatest cities is just a few miles away.

Chicagoland Speedway Seating Chart

Chicagoland Speedway Seating Chart