CART Online (April 9, 1998) -- Officials from Sportsman's Park in Cicero, Ill. and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) announced today that they will introduce professional auto racing to the Chicago market as early as the summer of 1999 due to...
CART Online (April 9, 1998) -- Officials from Sportsman's Park in Cicero, Ill. and Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) announced today that they will introduce professional auto racing to the Chicago market as early as the summer of 1999 due to an innovative track reconfiguration, creating the new Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park.
The National Jockey Club, owners of Sportsman's Park, and Chip Ganassi, owner of the CART team Target/Chip Ganassi Racing, are designing a new dual-purpose facility to host both championship auto racing and horse racing events. This is only the second track in the country to host both horse and auto racing at the same facility. Dover Downs in Delaware was the first.
Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park will include a seven-furlong horse racing track and a one-mile oval course for auto racing. Reconstruction will begin early this summer. The first CART race is scheduled to take place in Fall, 1999. In addition to CART racing, track officials plan to host several other motor sports events throughout the racing season.
"This is an exciting time for Target/Chip Ganassi Racing and the future of CART," said Chip Ganassi, Target/Chip Ganassi Racing team owner. "This new facility will allow CART to compete in the Chicago market for the first time in history. We are proud to bring this world-class sport to this world-class city. Race fans in Chicago will now have the chance to see their favorite teams and drivers, such as Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Bobby Rahal, Michael Andretti and Al Unser Jr., compete for the championship in person."
In a partnership with the National Jockey Club, Ganassi will be co-manager of the new facility, and he hopes to bring his track record of success in auto racing to this new venture. Target/Chip Ganassi Racing won back-to-back PPG Cup championships in 1996 and 1997 with drivers Jimmy Vasser and Alex Zanardi respectively.
"The introduction of auto racing to the Chicago market is a win-win situation for everyone involved," said Ed Duffy, chief operating officer of Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park. "Not only will the transformation of Sportsman's Park to a dual-purpose track be great for the auto and horse racing industries and our fans, but it will also provide many benefits to the Chicago area, including increased tourism, new jobs and increased tax revenues."
The addition of auto racing to Sportsman's Park will bring many economic benefits to the area. In addition to the revenues already generated through horseracing, the Chicago Motor Speedway at Sportsman's Park will generate nearly $100 million in revenues, pumping more than $6.9 million in tax revenues for the state and local economies annually, according to a study by Coopers & Lybrand L.L.P.
The new facility will employ 1,400 full and part-time employees. The introduction of auto racing to Chicago will also create new advertising opportunities for Chicago-area companies and will spur private sector development in the area surrounding the track.
In addition to benefiting the local economy, the track will be built with private capital, meaning Chicago-area residents and their tax dollars -- will not have to fund any part of the project. Sportsman's Park also has the highway infrastructure in place to handle the added traffic associated with auto racing.
"Chicago represents the heartland of Champ Car racing. There is a strong following for our sport in Chicago and this is reflected in the consistently strong TV audience we obtain in the market," said Andrew Craig, chairman and CEO of CART. "We think that this new race will be an instant hit and look forward to showcasing the world's fastest cars in Chicago in 1999."
Attendance at CART's 17 races last season was up 5.3 percent, and since 1990, attendance has risen over 32 percent. On average, a CART race weekend draws approximately 146,000 spectators.
Source: CART Online