Chicagoland Speedway started life as a hated 1.5-mile “cookie-cutter” D-shaped oval. Through the hatred, the track found a renaissance in the last few seasons as it has become a fan favorite for it’s worn out surface and fantastic races.
Debuting alongside Kansas Speedway the two were met with much opposition from fans not in those areas. Two race-tracks of the same size to complement a handful of other tracks the same size isn’t what fans were looking for. However, for NASCAR it meant two new tracks, one outside a massive metropolis in Chicago and the other in a growing mid-western city in Kansas.
Both tracks weathered hatred from fans only to come out the other side as two of the more well-liked tracks on the schedule. Most fans could do without Kansas, it is the missionary of race tracks. Chicagoland though just recently became a fantastic track.
It now appears that Alex Bowman’s first NASCAR Cup Series win will be the last NASCAR race or any race for that matter to be held at the speedway.
Death By Warehouses
According to documents on the Joliet.gov website, there are plans in place to replace Chicagoland Speedway with a number of warehouse developments. During the planning commissions’ most recent meeting on April 16th, the commission voted to table discussions until July. (View the agenda here).
A notice was sent out on April 8th and shared on Twitter by @Indys18wheels detailing how the Chicagoland property would be divided up.
Now keep in mind this is a public hearing regarding the future of the site, this isn’t a signed and sealed death certificate yet. Maybe they’ll make tunnels in the warehouses so cars can go down the backstretch and into turn 3. That little corner on the front stretch can just serve as a narrowing of the track, and some times might have to pit inside a warehouse. All of that seems super feasible.
In all honesty, things are looking pretty bleak for Chicagoland Speedway.
COVID-19 Was The Final Blow
When NASCAR took ISC private in 2019 the company linked up with Hillwood to repurpose some of the property that ISC owned. Chicagoland and Auto Club were two of the properties mentioned at the time.
Now throw in COVID-19 and the cancellation of every activity at Chicagoland and you have a recipe for death.
The fact of the matter is an industrial park is more profitable for the city of Joliet over the long run than a race track is. Chicagoland gets used one weekend a year. It might host some other small events here and there but outside of its one weekend, it doesn’t drive much to the city.
A subdivision of warehouses is a massive tax generator for the city. From payroll taxes to property taxes it will be far more profitable over the long run. Toss in the fact that the employees of these future warehouses/industrial sites will buy food and goods in Joliet and you can see how this is more beneficial than a once a year race track.
Discussion on this was tabled until the July 16th meeting, you can listen and watch at https://www.joliet.gov/departments/city-clerk-s-office/meeting-agendas-minutes-videos
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