Well folks, we are losing another race track. The historic Rockford Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois is closing its doors in October 2023 after an awe-inspiring 76-year run as a quarter-mile banked oval.
It’s always a great tragedy when another institution of speed falls victim to the relentless tendrils of urban sprawl. Where most race tracks were once in the middle of nowhere, civilization has crept into ever more remote and suburban areas, contributing to the absurdly long commutes of the average American. Looking at the area surrounding Rockford Speedway with Google Earth’s time machine function, it’s easy to see how the area has developed slowly since it was mostly fields and houses in 1985.
Now, the area directly around the track is a retail corridor, with a Target, Menards, and even a Home Depot. This sort of retail development consumes an area, and the track was always smack-dab in the middle of it all. The trouble with race tracks is that they take up a lot of space, space that is unused for most of the year. Even if a local racetrack can pack the calendar with three day weekends for the whole year, that still leaves four days a week where the track is essentially idle, with possible testing days sprinkled in.
Race tracks are notoriously expensive and difficult to manage. The fact that Rockford held on for so long is a testament to the dedication and passion of the track ownership. It is one of the pure American race tracks out there, with a classic story of event promotion and family fun for everyone. Since 1966, it has been owned by the Deery family, who took promotion and events by the horns and turned the track into the local institution that it is today.
According to Speed Sport, the track will continue to operate until October, with 50 events planned until its official closing.
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