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Milwaukee Mile road course


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#1 neiltipton

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 17:27

While researching the layout of the Milwaukee Mile, I stumbled upon this photo:

 

62legacy01.jpg

 

The website caption states it was taken in 1952, but the filename hints it might have come later, circa 1962.  Hard to tell if the oval course has been paved, but it's the road course that intrigues me; there are some notable differences to the version used today and I seen several hints online that an original version may fallen into disuse, around about the time the pit and paddock was expanded, so is this that early layout?



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#2 Michael Ferner

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 19:56

According to Allan Brown, the halfmile oval was in use for only two years, 1954 and '55. Since the road course looks pretty "fresh", and it was built in '54 according to Brown (modified in '59), I'd say we're looking at a '54 photograph.



#3 neiltipton

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 21:04

Just has sources elsewhere suggest it is as suspected from the 1960s.  (Certainly this photo appears in the Wisconsin Historical Society's archive as being early 1960s).  I'm reasonably satisfied that this therefore is the original road course, so the remaining question is when was it used until and when did the slightly shorter current version first appear?  Was that the modification that came in '59?


Edited by neiltipton, 15 July 2014 - 21:07.


#4 Joe Bosworth

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 23:23

Raced to two second places on the road course to Augie Pabst in 1957 and it was the course as one can now see on Google Earth..  It was a great driver's track where one could make great times primarily on the infield left and right around the half mile, coming out of the infield on to the oval and through the oval's long left hander.

 

I also attended there without racing in I think 1953 or 54.  Certainly before 1955. Too young to have a license in 53/54.  But the track in 1957, by my memory, was the same as one can see on Google Earth today.  I thought 1953/54 was as in 1957 but I would not argue any good evidence to the contrary. 

 

Regards



#5 neiltipton

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 23:38

Thanks Joe.  I've been looking at some YouTube footage of the Rex Mays 150s from the era, which give a bit of a clue - although given the fixed camera positions from the stands/Turn One that ere used in those days and the number of cars parked on the infield, you only get fleeting glimpses.  The version in the photo above is definitely gone by the 1967 pit and paddock enlargements which saw the demise of the dirt ovals.  I've seen in various histories that the road course was added in 1955, a year after the oval was paved.  From footage of that year's USAC race, the entry and exits to the road course at oval turn four certainly look quite narrow and appear to pass over a drainage gully or creek...


Edited by neiltipton, 15 July 2014 - 23:39.


#6 Tom Glowacki

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 00:44

While researching the layout of the Milwaukee Mile, I stumbled upon this photo:

 

62legacy01.jpg

 

The website caption states it was taken in 1952, but the filename hints it might have come later, circa 1962.  Hard to tell if the oval course has been paved, but it's the road course that intrigues me; there are some notable differences to the version used today and I seen several hints online that an original version may fallen into disuse, around about the time the pit and paddock was expanded, so is this that early layout?

I am pretty sure that what you describe as a half mile oval was really a quarter mile oval, used primarily for midgets.  I recall seeing the Green Bay Packers play an exhibition game there in the early 1950's on a field inside the small oval.  The road course is still there, i drove over a small part of it last weekend at The Miller.  Given the condition of the pavement, you would not want to do any hot laps of it these days.



#7 neiltipton

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 07:31

I am pretty sure that what you describe as a half mile oval was really a quarter mile oval, used primarily for midgets.  I recall seeing the Green Bay Packers play an exhibition game there in the early 1950's on a field inside the small oval.  The road course is still there, i drove over a small part of it last weekend at The Miller.  Given the condition of the pavement, you would not want to do any hot laps of it these days.

 

There were half and quarter mile dirt ovals originally - you can see both in the picture above.   Both disappeared in 1967.   Interesting that you say the road course pavement is in poor condition as it was resurfaced in about 2002-2003.  I guess that 10 years on it's in need of a refurb, though it seems doubtful it will get it any time soon.



#8 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 08:58

The Milwaukee Mile road course opened on August 15, 1954. There is a good aerial view of the course on the cover of the programme for the following weekend's stock car race here:

http://www.progcover...onsin540822.jpg

As you can see, this confirms the original layout was rather more sinuous. The oval had been paved in April of that year, by the way.

#9 neiltipton

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:06

Thanks Rob - very useful.  That seems to pretty definitively settle the start date of the road course in its original form.  Can anyone confirm my theory that the current layout may have been created in 1967 when the new pits and paddock were built?



#10 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:11

Actually, the track map in the programme booklet for the July 3, 1955 sports car races shows the road course had already been modified by then:

http://www.racingspo...1955-07-03t.jpg

#11 neiltipton

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 09:13

Good enough for me.  Mystery solved!



#12 RA Historian

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 14:16

The photo shows the original road course. The track was paved in 1954 and the road course added then. The loop in the bottom right of the photo was never used, for reasons I just do not know. The first road race at the track was in 1954 and the road course was either not ready or unsatisfactory. Hence the mile oval only was used, but with haybales placed here and there to form an occasional chicane. Before the next road race, in 1955, the loop was removed.

 

The road course was repaved about eight-ten years ago, and has been used by the SCCA Milwaukee region for events up until this year. However, this season the usual Milwaukee SCCA regional is not being held. Simply put, the Region's finances and the race's income were not enough to justify the track's rental fee. So the road course is dormant, at least for the time being.

 

The half mile oval did not have a long life. But the quarter mile oval was in regular use for years, as every Thursday night during the summer the track stage races for modified stock cars. The quarter mile was still in existence in the early 1960s, but sometime in that era it was removed.

 

Yes, the Green Bay Packers did play here. For many years they played up to three regular season games in Milwaukee, and up until the 1950s those were played on a gridiron layed out in  the infield of the race track. In fact, (now here is trivia!) the 1939 NFL Championship game was played at the Milwaukee track.

 

Tom



#13 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 16:15

The photo shows the original road course. The track was paved in 1954 and the road course added then. The loop in the bottom right of the photo was never used, for reasons I just do not know. The first road race at the track was in 1954 and the road course was either not ready or unsatisfactory. Hence the mile oval only was used, but with haybales placed here and there to form an occasional chicane. Before the next road race, in 1955, the loop was removed.


Having looked into this a little further, this isn't entirely accurate, Tom: the first five races of the day were in fact held on the new 2.0-mile road course, but when this started braking up badly, the final two races, including the feature Wisconsin Grand Prix for cars over 1500cc, were held on the 1.0-mile oval, spiced up with haybale-chicanes (which were soon knocked over so that the course was littered with hay).

Due to the poor surface and low speeds (the highest race average was 56.9 mph) the track was indeed modified for the second race, in July 1955, so the original course lasted less than one event. It's worth remembering, though, that this was only the fourth paved road course built in America (after Roosevelt Raceway, Thompson Raceway and Wilmot Hills), and the first built inside an oval, so there was little experience in terms of track design.

#14 neiltipton

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 20:08

Right, I think I we might have arrived at some conclusions here then:

 

1954:

milwau10.png

Used for half a meeting before being abandoned in favour of the oval course with hay bale chicanes.

 

1955-66:

milwau11.png

Revised and resurfaced version, used successfully for a number of years.

 

1967-84:

milwau12.png

After the insertion of the new pit and paddock.  Last sports car race in 1984, after which disused.

 

2004:

milwau13.png

Resurfaced and widened course, used by the SCCA and other car clubs until recently, though still extant. 

 

 

Hopefully I've got the history properly sorted now: http://www.racingcir...aukee-mile.html


Edited by neiltipton, 16 July 2014 - 21:42.


#15 RA Historian

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 00:43

Having looked into this a little further, this isn't entirely accurate, Tom: the first five races of the day were in fact held on the new 2.0-mile road course, but when this started braking up badly, the final two races, including the feature Wisconsin Grand Prix for cars over 1500cc, were held on the 1.0-mile oval, spiced up with haybale-chicanes (which were soon knocked over so that the course was littered with hay).

Due to the poor surface and low speeds (the highest race average was 56.9 mph) the track was indeed modified for the second race, in July 1955, so the original course lasted less than one event. It's worth remembering, though, that this was only the fourth paved road course built in America (after Roosevelt Raceway, Thompson Raceway and Wilmot Hills), and the first built inside an oval, so there was little experience in terms of track design.

Thanks for the info, Rob. I was not yet a racing fan in 1954 and my statement was based upon a recollection from one who was there and from a race results sheet which listed 1.0 mile laps. I had never heard of any of the races being held on the whole track in '54. Hence, I appreciate your update.

 

Tom



#16 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:19

I had completely forgotten about the switch to the oval until you mentioned it, so thank you too, Tom !

Neil, the track length of the oval was always given as 1-mile, until CART remeasured it as 1.032-mile in 1997, and IRL as 1.015-mile in 2004, which is the length still used today. For NASCAR it was always simply a mile.

Also, it is worth noting the road course was used through approximately July 1988 for motorcycle racing. And, believe it or not, they also ran motorcycles on the oval, in June 1993... Bad idea: the crashfest was red-flagged three times and finally abandoned after fifteen of the scheduled twenty laps !

I noticed some mistakes here and there on other pages of the website, send me a PM or e-mail.

#17 neiltipton

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Posted 17 July 2014 - 17:24

Neil, the track length of the oval was always given as 1-mile, until CART remeasured it as 1.032-mile in 1997, and IRL as 1.015-mile in 2004, which is the length still used today. For NASCAR it was always simply a mile.

 

Page duly updated!



#18 Rob Semmeling

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 11:02

For completion's sake: while the SCCA Milwaukee Region has not scheduled a race at the Milwaukee Mile road course for 2014, the Midwestern Council of Sports Car Clubs did stage a race meeting there this year, on June 21.

 

So the road course is still being used for racing for the time being, and there is also the non-competitive Performance Driving Experience (PDX) Series.



#19 Joe Bosworth

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Posted 23 July 2014 - 17:46

Back in post #4 I posted as follows:

"I also attended there without racing in I think 1953 or 54.  Certainly before 1955. Too young to have a license in 53/54.  But the track in 1957, by my memory, was the same as one can see on Google Earth today.  I thought 1953/54 was as in 1957 but I would not argue any good evidence to the contrary."

 

Since then neiltipton did his very good post #14. I thought my spectating quoted in #4 was the same track as I raced on in1957. I can't get a better fix on the 53/54 experience as i don't have any good incident to fix off of.  i came up with the date that i did based on the types of cars competing then which fitted my memory of 53/54 better than 1955 which fits post #14 better.

 

Paul Uhlien's (spelling ??) Excalibur Js were there as was a Healey Silverstone that was near the front. In the lower ranks there were some real sleepers such as a supercharged VW sedan that was more than keeping the Porsches honest and a Willys sedan.  The Willys was well hot rodded in its F-head engine.  I had a peak inside its head a bit later and it had 2 inch intake valves which were unheard of in the day.

 

I can get a fix in that the two Excaliburs are recognised as being built in 52/53 and I thought that Milwaukee was very early in their racing history.  It may be that passing of time does not allow my mind to remember the mickey mouse ess bends before leading on to the oval.  Or did the better lauout come a bit earlier that post #14 advises?

 

It would be very intersting to know if there is a programme anyw3here in our sphere from that meeting.

 

regards


Edited by Joe Bosworth, 23 July 2014 - 18:01.


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#20 RA Historian

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Posted 24 July 2014 - 14:19

Road course did not open until 1954. Track was not paved until that year. The Excaliburs were owned and entered by Brooks Stevens, not 'Paul Uhlien'. (I think that you meant David Uihlein; he entered his DVU Special, but was not affiliated with Excalibur.)

 

Results are on Martin Krejci's site; go to http://www.wsrp.cz/natus1954.html#60 and scroll down.

 

Tom