Joliet, Ill. October 3, 2003 - One of the best dragstrips in the nation is about to get better.
Route 66 Raceway, located in Joliet, Illinois has earned the reputation as the quickest track in the nation and as the state-of-the-art dragstrip in the world. During the recently completed CARQUEST Auto Parts NHRA National event, competitors set two national mile-per hour (speed) records, three of the quickest elapsed time Top Fuel runs and four record elapsed time Funny Car passes were made. Without a doubt, racers from around the country are eager to stage their cars at Route 66 Raceway, but beginning in starting 2004, they will be driving on a brand new and possibly even faster racing surface.
Why would a track with such an impeccable reputation want to change a thing? Route 66 Raceway has earned their accolades because they are constantly striving for perfection at every event. This is a feat that hardly goes unnoticed for drag racers who visit the track nearly 80 dates a season.
The resurfacing of the dragstrip will begin at the 500 foot mark and continue 820 feet to the finish line in both lanes. This project is part of the facility's ongoing maintenance plan.
Since the very beginning, Route 66 Raceway has aimed for its racing surface to be the best in the world. It started as the best, and will continue to be the best. This title does not permit "wear and tear."
The goal of the renovation effort is to produce and maintain a blemish free racing surface, providing drivers an awesome platform for national records. Although the track is still one of the best in the world, and still in record-setting shape, as evidenced this past weekend, Route 66 Raceway wanted to ensure that the measuring stick never has an opportunity to slip. Consequently, one of the best race tracks in the world is about to get even better.
Route 66 Raceway is beginning the two-step process with the removal of the existing asphalt from the 500 foot mark and continues 820 feet to the finish line. New asphalt specially formulated for traction will be applied to replace the old. The special formulation results in a tighter asphalt that is more suitable for racing than regular street mix asphalt. The particular mix of the asphalt will be the same as that used on Route 66 Raceway's sister track, Chicagoland Speedway. Officials at the raceway have used this mix in the past and drivers around the country have commented on the great results.
"There's nothing in drag racing to compare it to," commented Tony Pedregon Funny Car driver and winner of his category at Route 66 Raceway in fall events of 2002 and 2003. "It's a quick and fast surface, it's a nice facility. If it makes it even better I'm all for it. This is a consistent facility, we are always at the mercy of the weather and climate. This weekend we had favorable conditions, and this facility makes it a very pleasant trip. I'd come here three times a year if I could."
After the new track surface cures through an Illinois winter, track staff will polish the surface and grind it to remove any imperfections. The end result will be a top-of-the-line surface suitable for record-breaking runs and bragging rights for years to come.
"We know that obviously (Route 66 Raceway) wants it perfect," commented John Force, eleven time NHRA Funny Car driver and owner. "Bottom line-- we love this track, we know we can run the numbers here, it's already the quickest in the world. You know the sport is growing, so I say thank you for investing the money in this place. It's heaven."
Raceway officials have slated May 2004 as the month for the track renovation to be finished. This will allow the pavement to cure for a winter and give the track staff a window of time to prepare the track to the impeccable Route 66 Raceway standards.
Progress of the track will be posted on www.route66raceway.com.