Gateway Motorsports Park

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Gateway Motorsports Park
Gateway Motorsports Park starting line.jpg
Gateway Motorsport Park's starting line tower Official Website: http://www.gatewaymsp.com/
Location 700 Raceway Boulevard
Madison, Illinois 62060
Capacity 78,000
Owner Curtis Francois
Address 700 Raceway Blvd, Madison, IL 62060
Opened 1970
Major events NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, National Hot Rod Association, American Drag Racing League, USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series, (former: NASCAR Nationwide Series)
Oval
Length 2 km (1.25 mi)
Banking Turns 1 & 2 – 11°
Turns 3 & 4 – 9°
Straights – 3°

Gateway Motorsports Park (formerly Gateway International Raceway) is a race track in Madison, Illinois, USA, just east of St. Louis, Missouri. After being shuttered by former owner Dover Motorsports Inc., on November 3, 2010, it was announced September 8, 2011, that the facility would re-open and host an NHRA Full Throttle Series event September 28–30, 2012. St. Louis real estate developer and former professional racer (INDYCAR Indy Lights) Curtis Francois has signed a one-year lease to run the track. It hosted a NASCAR Nationwide Series event and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on a 1.25-mile (2 kilometer) oval, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) infield Road Course used by SCCA and various car clubs, and also has a quarter-mile drag strip that hosts an annual National Hot Rod Association event. The facilities were owned by Dover Motorsports, a group that also owned what is now Memphis International Raceway, along with Dover International Speedway, and the Nashville Superspeedway.

The first major event held at the facility was a CART series held on Saturday May 24, 1997, the day before the Indy Racing League's Indianapolis 500. Rather than scheduling a race directly opposite the Indy 500 (as they had done in 1996 with the U.S. 500), CART scheduled Gateway the day before to serve as their Memorial Day weekend open-wheel alternative without direct conflict. After a couple years, track management grew increasingly dissatisfied with its apparent use, as seen by some, as a political pawn or statement by CART. This event had poor attendance as fans generally chose to travel to the Indy 500 for the weekend instead. For 2000, the race was moved to the fall. In 2001, it was dropped from the CART series schedule, and switched alliances to the Indy Racing League. After mediocre attendance, the event was dropped altogether after 2003.

Track history[edit]

The 1.25-mile (2.01 km) oval is a favorite of many of the drivers who race there due to the unique shape and different degrees of banking in each corner. Turns 1 & 2 have characteristics similar to New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Turns 3 & 4 are similar to Phoenix International Raceway and the track's egg shape mimics the legendary Darlington Raceway. Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams test at GIR in preparation for these events.

There is also a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) infield road course used by sports car clubs and motorcycle organizations through the warmer months. This road course hosted a round of the AMA Superbike Championship in 1995. Canadian Miguel Duhamel won the superbike class in blistering hot conditions.

Motorcycles lined up to race

In early January 2008, it was announced that the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers would move their sponsorship from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The July 19 Nationwide Series will now be called the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250. At the 2008 event, Carl Edwards became the fourth driver to win two NASCAR Nationwide Series events at GIR.

It was a big year in 2008 for the NHRA at GIR as legendary 14-time Funny Car champion John Force earned his 1,000th career round win against Ron Capps. Making the event doubly special was the fact it happened on his 59th birthday one week after he lost to his daughter, Ashley Force, in the finals at Atlanta for her first career Funny Car win. Another storyline in the day's event was Rod Fuller beating his arch rival Tony Schumacher in the finals. It would be a big win for Fuller as it represented one of the very few times Schumacher would be beat in an historic season for The Sarge, who won 15 races, with seven of them consecutively with 31 round wins in a row, en route to his fifth consecutive Top Fuel title and his sixth overall.

Looking down the drag strip at dawn

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway was sponsored by Camping World, becoming the Camping World 200. Coincidentally, the race was won by defending Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, whose #33 Truck fielded by Kevin Harvick Inc. is sponsored by Camping World.

Also at the 2008 Camping World 200, GIR introduced its brand-new victory lane, a throwback to the one used at Rockingham. The project, spearheaded by Batycki, was an immediate hit as Hornaday and the rest of the Truck Series competitors were very complimentary of the new addition.

In 2009, two new events were added to the season schedule: The American Drag Racing League, a sanctioning body headquartered in nearby O'Fallon, Missouri, and the USAC .25 Midget Series, the racing league's new quartermidget tour. The USAC event is in conjunction with the Gold Crown Nationals, a midget race co-sanctioned by USAC and POWRi scheduled to run at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.

In 2010 Gateway received a second NASCAR Nationwide Series race due to the closure of Memphis Motorsports Park. The date was the former late fall event at Memphis. This was the last NASCAR event held at Gateway until 2014, as Dover Motorsports announced it will not seek sanctioning for the three events held at the track in 2010. The track did not make an announcement concerning any of the other events the track holds.[1] The now closed down Nashville Superspeedway would get Gateway's place on the schedule in July, while the October race date will remain vacant. The NHRA did not schedule an event for 2011 at Gateway either.

On November 3, 2010, Dover Motorsports announced that Gateway was officially closing and ceasing all racing operations at the track.[2] On September 8, 2011, the official announcement was made that Gateway would re-open in 2012 and host the 15th AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals September 28–30, under the leadership of Curtis Francois.[3]

On December 6, 2012, USAC announced that the track would have a USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series date in 2013 on June 1.[4]

On October 25, 2013, it was announced that the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series would be returning to Gateway on June 14, 2014 for the first time since 2010.[5]

Race history[edit]

CART and IRL results[edit]

Main article: Emerson Indy 250

NHRA Mello Yello Series history[edit]

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2012

Nationwide Series race history[edit]

Camping World Truck Series race history[edit]

Records[edit]

* Keselowski and Sorenson tied for the fastest laptime in qualifying, both setting a new identical track record. By virtue of being higher in owner's points, Keselowski was given the tiebreaker and credited with the pole.

Other events[edit]

Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour made a stop at Gateway on July 3, 2000. Other artists featured at the concert were Korn, Kid Rock, Powerman 5000 & System of a Down.

The Illinois State Police uses Gateway to train new Troopers in high speed vehicle operations (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course).

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°39′03″N 90°08′07″W / 38.65080°N 90.13537°W / 38.65080; -90.13537