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Local News

Joliet and Chicagoland Speedway renew relationship

Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in 2016.
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 at Chicagoland Speedway in 2016.

JOLIET – The city and Chicagoland Speedway have signed on for another 20-year relationship.

The Joliet City Council on Tuesday approved a use agreement that officials said basically continues most of the terms of the original annexation agreements that brought two major racetracks into the city.

“It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since the vision and dream of Route 66 Raceway was born in Joliet,” Chicagoland Speedway President Scott Paddock told the council, referring to the first track that was built and still exists in the racing complex on the city’s south end.

Actually, the Route 66 Raceway annexation agreement was made in 1997 and has expired. The Chicagoland Speedway annexation agreement was made in January 1999. Both were 20-year agreements that needed to be renewed.

In 1999, NASCAR was hunting for a spot in the Chicago region to build a racetrack and getting resistance before Joliet city officials invited the organization to come to town and wrapped up an annexation agreement in weeks.

“We are incredibly grateful to the community which embraced us with open arms more than 20 years ago,” Paddock said.

The agreement approved Tuesday consolidates agreements for both tracks, now under common ownership, into one package.

City Attorney Marty Shanahan, who worked on the agreement, said it basically continues the agreement for another 20 years.

Paddock described it as “business as usual” for the racetracks.

Speaking to the council, however, Paddock said NASCAR racing and the racetrack business has been good for Joliet.

“Our NASCAR weekend is the state of Illinois’ largest single-day sporting event,” he said.

When the 2018 NASCAR race is broadcast on July 1, it will be seen in more than 175 countries, giving Joliet recognition around the world, he said.

Paddock said Chicagoland Speedway estimates the economic impact of the tracks on the region at $140 million a year, while the organization has made $2 million in donations through its Racing Advocates for Community Enrichment foundation.

Mayor Bob O’Dekirk told Paddock that the raceways have been “great for Joliet.”

Councilman Larry Hug commended Paddock for the raceways’ “bouncing back” from the recession.

In other business Tuesday,
the council:

• Voted 6-2 against a special use permit that Crusader Customs sought to move its business, now located at 1020 W. Jefferson St., to a larger facility at 2409 W. Jefferson St. that is a vacant, former auto parts store;

• Tabled for a second time a $51,220 maintenance contract for the video board at Joliet Route 66 Stadium, which will next go to the council’s Stadium Committee for review.

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