- 500 Speedway Blvd.
- Joliet, IL 60433
- (815) 722-5500
My final stop in Illinois this week was at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL for the IRL Peak Antifreeze Indy 300. I went to school in Joliet and this track was being built during my senior year. The first race was the summer after I graduated. Chicagoland doesn’t sell individual race tickets. The only way to get tickets to any of the races is to buy tickets to all the races. That first year, a buddy was able to get Busch series tickets off eBay, and until this weekend, that was the only race I had been to other than NASCAR qualifying. My dad’s cousin buys the track pass every year to get tickets to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup race, but they couldn’t care less about the ARCA/IRL weekend. For the last few years, I’ve wanted to get their IRL tickets, but I always had something going on. This year, it just worked out that I was going to be in town, so my dad asked for the tickets and he and I finally got to go to an IRL race.
Chicagoland is great for the Indy Cars. It’s the last race of the year and for some reason, the track provides a really racy surface for the open wheelers. The two closest finishes in IRL history have come at Chicagoland and this year added another one as Helio Castroneves edged out Scott Dixon by .033. The race saw a lot of three wide and side-by-side racing and that’s not just for half a lap. This was going on for 10 to 15 laps at a time.
Chicagoland Speedway sits right next door to Rt. 66 Raceway which is one of the big stops on the NHRA circuit. Both tracks are south of Joliet between I-80 and Wilmington, IL. There are two main roads in to the track. We usually take Il-53 from the south, but it’s also possible to take US-52 from I-57. The track sits quite a ways back from both roads creating ample parking near the track. We entered a parking lot of Schweitzer Road. I remembered that, but when it came time to find the car, neither of us could remember exactly where it was. The grounds of Chicagoland are massive and we ended up walking around for 30 minutes before we figured it out.
There is only one set of grandstands which sit on the front stretch. Seating is somewhere around 75,000, but there is room for expansion. Since you have to buy tickets for this race in order to get tickets for the NASCAR race, most of those 75,000 seats were full. We sat in turn 1 about 40 rows up which provides a great few of the track. We could see all the way around and the cars were never blocked from view.
The food situation was similar to most major stadiums. It was too expensive. I paid $4 for a Coke Zero, but I was really thirsty. Beer was $6 and bottle water was the same as a Coke. Even though the food was pricey, they did have some really good options. There were Chicago favorites like the Italian Beef and Chicago-Style hot dogs as well as ribs and steak sandwiches. They had the old standbys like hamburgers and pizza as well, but nothing was priced under $6. I passed on lunch at the track knowing IRL races go by pretty quick. The food looked good and the portion size was pretty good, but I knew I could a better value for my buck somewhere else.
Chicagoland is a great place to enjoy a Sunday afternoon of racing. It’s no Bristol or Daytona, but the facilities are nice. At least on the IRL side, the racing is good. The NASCAR racing is ok. Usually not great, but that’s because the track is one of those cookie cutter 1 1/2 mile D-Shaped ovals that were so popular. Teams love them, fans hate ’em.