Illinois Wait for Racing is Over

Shannon Babb and Billy Drake battle on the bullring at Fairbury Speedway in 2019. (Tyson Graves Photo)

June 11, 2020

(By Tyson Graves)

The 2020 race season is finally getting into full swing in the Land of Lincoln. The start of the race season has been on hold for over two months by the COVID-19 pandemic. After a couple of attempts by tracks in Illinois to open the past few weeks it will finally happen at most tracks the next two weeks. Charleston Speedway has been racing the past two weeks as new promoter Sonny Ross took a stand with the support of the local authorities to get things started. This past weekend East Moline held a race on Sunday night. A week prior to that the Gundakers, promoters at Tri-City Speedway attempted to open but were shut down at the eleventh hour by the local authorities.

The Illinois Motorsports Coalition founded back in early May to try and come up with plans to get us all back racing. This was made up of several race track promoters around Illinois trying to work with the governing agencies to get tracks back open and slowly get fans back in the stands. Tracks were eager to open as their livelihoods were at stake just sitting idol. Race fans and teams have been waiting as patiently as possible to get to the track. Many drivers and fans found themselves driving to surrounding states to get their dirt track fix waiting for tracks in their back yard to open up.

This weekend several tracks will open up. Sister tracks Lincoln, IL will open up Friday night and Macon will hold its season opener Saturday night. Peoria Speedway will hold a special event paying $1,500 to win for both Late Model and Modifieds. Spoon River near Banner, IL will also open its gates for the first time since 2020. All these tracks will welcome fans but COVID-19 precautions will be in place with temperature checks and screening.

Fayette County Speedway will have one of the premium events of the weekend on Friday night as the American Modified Series will be in town for a $2,000 to win payday. The American Modified Series has been a welcomed series in Illinois competing at many tracks and drawing lots of drivers and fans the past few seasons.

Next weekend two more of the mainstay race tracks in Central Illinois will open its gates for their season openers. Friday night Farmer City will get their season kicked off. Lance Spieker, the 2018 DIRTcar Promoter of the Year has been working with local health officials for the past two months. He has been able to hold some private practices for some teams with strict social distancing procedures in place. But Lance has mentioned it is not the same as having a race with fans in attendance.

America's Race Track Fairbury Speedway will start next Saturday the 20th with the second year of the FALS Cup. The opener will be headlined by a $3,000 to win Late Model special that will be broadcast on PPV by Dirt on Dirt. Modified's will also be in action as well for $2,000 to win. Matt Curl, the 2019 DIRTcar Promoter of the Year has been very active working to get tracks back open in Illinois. He is hoping things can go as planned so his track can host the biggest payday in its history on August 1st with the $50,000 to win Prairie Dirt Classic.

Tri-City Speedway will also open next Friday night the 19th. The Gundakers have also been on the front lines in the battle to get tracks back open.

One thing is for sure, when people return to the track the next two weekends things will be different. On the other hand everyone will be ready to return to the track and hang out with their second families. The dirt racing fan in Illinois is getting Christmas in June with all these tracks getting back in action.