Chicagoland Speedway is a 1.5 mile tri-oval track in Joliet, Illinois. Until 2019, the speedway held NASCAR races, including the Cup Series. Until 2010, the track hosted the IndyCar Series, with several thrilling finishes, including the closest in IndyCar history. NASCAR owns and operates the speedway.
In late 1995, Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George and International Speedway Corporation CEO Bill France, Jr. met informally to propose developing a new speedway near Chicago. They founded The Motorsports Alliance, a joint venture between IMS and ISC. Major racing facilities near Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex were built or near completion by 1995. The Chicago area was an undiscovered motorsports market with huge promise. In 1996, a site for a speedway near Chicago was sought. However, George Barr had negotiated to establish Route 66 Raceway in the Joliet region. To create a speedway near Route 66 Raceway, Barr encouraged Joliet officials to meet with the Motorsports Alliance. After the success of Route 66 Raceway in 1998, the city decided to study the impact of a new speedway. The proposed speedway would bring $300 million and nearly 3,000 jobs to Joliet and Will County.
On January 19, 1999, the Joliet City Council approved the speedway.
The Will County Board then expanded the Des Plaines River Valley Enterprise Zone to give the speedway developers a tax relief. The tax break news threatened to force the Joliet High School district out of the enterprise zone, but a deal was struck. After combining with Route 66 Raceway LLC in May 1999, Coyne, George, and France formed Raceway Associates, LCC.
According to Raceway Associates, the track will feature a 1.5 mile D-shaped tri-oval. Vice President and General Manager Joie Chitwood III. France underlined the new track’s importance during the announcement:
In the Chicago metropolitan market, a major league racing venue of this kind represents the evolution of car racing from a niche regional sport to a big mainstream sport. The fan and sponsor interest will rival the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball. We are overjoyed to be here.
— Bill Jr.
The RCA Dome, Los Angeles Coliseum, and Rose Bowl have all been designed by HNTB. The speedway was built by Bovis Lend Lease. Beginning August 1999, construction began September 28, 1999. The track’s name and inaugural events were unveiled on May 8, 2000, at Chicago’s Navy Pier. A few issues arose during track construction. Heavy rains and excavation runoff inundated homes near the raceway in the summer of 2000. In February 2001, a worker fell from the skybox suites atop the grandstands, killing him Construction was finished in 2001.
The only major addition to the track since its completion was the installation of lighting in 2008. This was “phase one” of four stages for building and expansion. Four-phase seating capacity would entirely surround the speedway. Since 2001, the Indycar Series has raced there, with three of the five closest finishes in history occurring in 2002. No IndyCars will return to the track in 2011, despite the tight finishes. The speedway has announced modifications to the NASCAR schedule for 2011, with the first race of the 2011 Chase for the Championship relocating to September 16–18. There was also a stand-alone Nationwide Series racing day on June 4th.
On May 14, 2015, Andersen Promotions, the series’ promoter, held an oval test at Chicagoland Speedway, the first since 2010. INDYCAR authorities used the test to give the Dallara IL-15 its first oval laps.
The raceway’s track seating was lowered from 55,000 to 47,000 on January 28, 2019.
The COVID-19 outbreak forced the cancellation of Chicagoland Speedway’s 2020 season. The track’s staff were laid off shortly after. As of May 11, 2020, the speedway’s future is undetermined as huge portions of the surrounding area will be subdivided into an industrial park.
According to reports on September 27, Chicagoland and Kentucky Speedways will lose their NASCAR races in 2021, which was verified by the speedways two days later on September 29. Also, Route 66 Raceway stated it will be closed until the 2021 season, leaving both circuits without any scheduled events.
Chicagoland Speedway’s two major series run on varying track lengths. NASCAR uses 1.50 mile for timing and scoring. IRL timing and scoring used a 1.52-mile track.
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