Chicagoland Speedway was opened in 2001, the result of over five years of effort by Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Tony George, International Speedway Corporation Chief Executive Officer Bill France and nine local Joliet entrepreneurs: George Barr, Jim Bingham, Dale Coyne, Jerry Papesh, Ed Rensi, Steve Spiess, and Dale, Jack and Rex Steffes. The 75,000-seat, $130 million Speedway is the largest sporting facility in Illinois and occupies over 1,300 acres.
Chicagoland Speedway's sister facility, Route 66 Raceway, was opened in 1998 and was the best, most modern facility built for drag racing at the time. It was an instant success, not only with race fans and participants, but in Joliet as well.
The success of Route 66 Raceway and riverboat casinos helped Joliet experience unprecedented growth and economic diversity. Aware of the trials and tribulations Motorsports Alliance were having in building a superspeedway, Dale Coyne suggested Joliet officials meet with the ownership group to discuss the possibility of building a 1.5-mile state-of-the-art speedway adjacent to Route 66 Raceway property to host NASCAR, Indy Racing League and other events.
An impact study revealed that Chicagoland Speedway would generate more than $300 million in economic activity in Joliet and in the Will county region. Additionally, the project would create nearly 3,400 jobs, including over 2,000 construction-related positions, yielding more that $100 million in wages for local residents and surrounding counties.
The surging city jumped at the chance to build the speed palace, and in May 1999, Raceway Associates was unveiled. This multi-purpose motorsports complex would feature a 1.5-mile, D-shaped, tri-oval superspeedway, drag racing's ultimate stadium-style seating 1/4-mile drag strip and a 1/2-mile dirt oval track. Joie Chitwood III was named vice president and general manager of the massive facility. With all of the pieces finally in place, development of the 930-acre dream began in August 1999.
The news that all of Chicago was waiting for was finally revealed on May 8, 2000, during a press conference at scenic Navy Pier. The onlookers learned the name of the track - Chicagoland Speedway Joliet, Ill. - and the schedule of events for its inaugural season, including: NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, ARCA RE/MAX Series and the IRL IndyCar Series.