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Chicago Motor Speedway versus Chicagoland?


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#1 jeze

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 09:22

Recently, I've been confused by the fact that there were two competitive ovals in such a small area at the beginning of this. Does anyone know why that was the case, and why CMS was closed, while Chicagoland bloomed? Was it just by chance that two speedways were built around the same city at the same time, or was it direct rivalry? As always, the ship CART jumped on flooded first, but that's just normal ;)

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#2 Tmeranda

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 14:06

Chicago Motor Speedway was a joint venture between the track owner and I believe an Champ car team owner. It was located at the Sportsman horse racing track. Every year they would take out portions of the dirt horse track and pave it for the motor race! After the motor race, the pavement would be removed and the dirt track relaid for horse racing. The track was refered to as a paper clip by the drivers who mostly did not like it. It had two long straights and two 180 degree truns. With the great decline in the popularity of CART racing the attendence fell off greatly until it no longer paid to continue. The track has since been closed and taken over by the city of Cicero.

#3 B Squared

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 14:45

If you go to a current satellite map, (sorry, I'm unable to get the map to show up properly with a link - go to Hawthorne Park/ Cicero, IL) it shows two different courses. The horse racing track to the south of the old car racing track. I don't ever recall any paving/ tear up/ relay dirt stories and never witnessed this said scenario. I've been known to be mistaken though.

Brian Brown

#4 RA Historian

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 15:05

Originally posted by Tmeranda
Chicago Motor Speedway was a joint venture between the track owner and I believe an Champ car team owner.

Chip Ganassi.

The first year was 1999 and the race was sponsored by Target. Target did a very proper job of promotion in Chicago, and the race had a large turnout. It would have to be termed a success. But that was 1999. Attendance fell off precipitously thereafter, Target's involvement decreased, and it went away.

Part of the problem was the track itself. It was a makeover of the old Sportsman's Park horse track, which interestingly enough was right next to the Hawthorn Park horse track, and was a compromise at best. As mentioned by Tmeranda, it was a tight oval, with rather acute, rather than sweeping, turns. Further, the layout of the track and grandstands did not work at all. The main grandstands were elevated, which meant that when the cars were on the front straight, they were right up against the wall, and as such were not visible from the grandstands! Hence, for most of the seats, the only time the cars were visible was when they were in the turns and on the back straight. Not good. Fans did not like it and did not come back.

The nearby Joliet track was a much better proposition from the start. Originally owned by Dale Coyne, Tony George came in as a partner. Then the whole lot was sold to nascar. Success guaranteed.

Tom

#5 ZOOOM

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 16:31

Being from the Chicagoland area, IIRC the track was built around the horse racing track. The infield of the car track was the horse track.
Ganassi and Stormy Bidwell (son of the original owner of the horse track) partnered to build the track.
They got a great deal of money from the town of Cicero to build it, to be paid back over several years.
Target promoted it the first year and you could get tickets by just showing up. First race had curious people from the city who came for nothing and didn't like what they saw.
Second race had about twelve people.
I don't think there WAS a third race.
Ganassi and Bidwell filed bankrupcy or something, leaving the town of Cicero holding the bag.
It was a white elephant for many years. The town eventually took possession and leveled it.

Chicagoland, on the other hand was built in the middle of nowhere. Plenty of room. They were smart enough to get a NASCAR date first. The track has sold out every event for several years, mostly because you had to buy a package of all the races to get to see the NASCAR race. When we go to see the Indy cars run we cannot buy tickets from the track. They are all sold. We purchase the tickets from vendors along the road into the track. Once inside, we can sit almost anywhere we want to.
It's a GREAT Indy car track. Plenty of parking. But you can't bring in ANYTHING to eat or drink. You must buy track food and drink.

ZOOOM

#6 jeze

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 19:48

Originally posted by ZOOOM
Being from the Chicagoland area, IIRC the track was built around the horse racing track. The infield of the car track was the horse track.
Ganassi and Stormy Bidwell (son of the original owner of the horse track) partnered to build the track.
They got a great deal of money from the town of Cicero to build it, to be paid back over several years.
Target promoted it the first year and you could get tickets by just showing up. First race had curious people from the city who came for nothing and didn't like what they saw.
Second race had about twelve people.
I don't think there WAS a third race.
Ganassi and Bidwell filed bankrupcy or something, leaving the town of Cicero holding the bag.
It was a white elephant for many years. The town eventually took possession and leveled it.

Chicagoland, on the other hand was built in the middle of nowhere. Plenty of room. They were smart enough to get a NASCAR date first. The track has sold out every event for several years, mostly because you had to buy a package of all the races to get to see the NASCAR race. When we go to see the Indy cars run we cannot buy tickets from the track. They are all sold. We purchase the tickets from vendors along the road into the track. Once inside, we can sit almost anywhere we want to.
It's a GREAT Indy car track. Plenty of parking. But you can't bring in ANYTHING to eat or drink. You must buy track food and drink.

ZOOOM


I think they clung on to their CART schedule position until 2002, I need a check: Yes it was, da Matta won the last race there. It seems as the circuit is being demolished bit by bit at the moment. Still a funny situation it got as it got. How far is it between the two circuits? I guess there's at least an hour after checking on Google Earth? Anyway, Chicagoland is a fantastic circuit, just look at the finishes one is always treated to!

#7 Buford

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 20:10

If not heavy traffic - 30 to 40 minutes maximum. One huge problem was there was no parking at the track and fans were left to the mercy of local property owners charging $40 a day to park or more with still a several block walk from there to the track. I only went once because of that.

#8 Jim Thurman

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Posted 29 April 2009 - 21:38

There's no surprise or mystery why there were two major speedways built relatively close together, it was part of the CART-IRL feud and competition between the two to get into the Chicago market.

And, yes, Chicagoland got a NASCAR date, which are easy to come by when the same people own and operate it. George and France/ISC teamed up to build Chicagoland. Prior to that Coyne was part of a group that built a drag strip and dirt oval at the site - which was then known as Route 66 Raceway.

I remember when Chicago Motor Speedway was announced, I posted to a small group of friends "In Cicero, Ganassi's boys were hard at work, meanwhile...in Joliet, the two big bosses had joined forces..."

It only works if you imagine Walter Winchell reading it :D

#9 ZOOOM

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 14:23

The area that Chicagoland is built on, has several nearby tracks.
There is a small dirt "bullring" for sprinters, a FANTASTIC drag racing track, Chicagoland Speedway (a mile banked track) and a private road course for the amature owner/drivers with a clubhouse,( Autobahn Country Club) all within about a mile.
It is all inside the Joliet town limits and has turned out to be a boone for the area.
All that and an exit from interstate 80 about a mile away!

ZOOOM


#10 jeze

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Posted 30 April 2009 - 19:30

The area that Chicagoland is built on, has several nearby tracks.
There is a small dirt "bullring" for sprinters, a FANTASTIC drag racing track, Chicagoland Speedway (a mile banked track) and a private road course for the amature owner/drivers with a clubhouse,( Autobahn Country Club) all within about a mile.
It is all inside the Joliet town limits and has turned out to be a boone for the area.
All that and an exit from interstate 80 about a mile away!

ZOOOM


I also find it interesting that it's turning the whole time in some way, could that be the explanation to the excellent racing often seen at the track? If else, what makes the finishes at Chicagoland so insanely close? It sounds as though that track is heaven to local race fans, and has a bit of everything. It's certainly great to have such a speedway within the boundaries of Chicago! Anyway, does anyone know the banking at Chicago Motor Speedway? Was it a flatty, like Milwaukee, or had it 15 degree corners to raise top speeds?

#11 ZOOOM

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Posted 01 May 2009 - 01:51

I also find it interesting that it's turning the whole time in some way, could that be the explanation to the excellent racing often seen at the track? If else, what makes the finishes at Chicagoland so insanely close? It sounds as though that track is heaven to local race fans, and has a bit of everything. It's certainly great to have such a speedway within the boundaries of Chicago! Anyway, does anyone know the banking at Chicago Motor Speedway? Was it a flatty, like Milwaukee, or had it 15 degree corners to raise top speeds?


Jeze...
Chicagoland is about 45 miles south west of the City of Chicago, hardly within the city limits.
The track is heavily banked because it was designed as a NASCAR track. The track at Milwaukee Wisconsin was originally a dirt track designed for horses.
It therefore is pretty flat.
The Chicagoland track is banked just right so that they can run side by side easily. In fact, last year We saw the drivers run four wide, side by side for several laps!
The seating at Chicagoland is higher than the track so that (with nothing in the infield) you can see the complete racing service all the way around the track...

But the food's expensive...
ZOOOM