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Gateway International Raceway

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Gateway International Raceway
Location Madison, Illinois
Active from N/A - present
Major events NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, National Hot Rod Association
Surface N/A
Length 1.25 mi (2 km)
Turns
Lap record N/A (driver, team, year, class)

Gateway International Raceway is a race track in Madison, Illinois, USA, just minutes from Downtown St. Louis, Missouri. It hosts 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 are owned by Dover Motorsports, a group that also owns Memphis Motorsports Park, Dover International Speedway and the Nashville Superspeedway among others.

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 and IRL/USAC and its 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, its 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.

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.

In late 2006, Lenny Batycki took over as the vice president and general manager of the track. Unlike most of his predecessors, Batycki brought with him extensive marketing and PR knowledge of motorsports, having been a vice president at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC and a vice president at Richard Childress Racing for a number of years, working with the late Dale Earnhardt for the last years of the seven-time champion's career.

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.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway was sponsored by Camping World, becoming the Camping World 200. Ironically, 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 will receive a second NASCAR Nationwide Series race due to the closure of Memphis Motorsports Park. The date will be the former late fall event at Memphis.

Track history

The current oval and infield road course were built in 1996 on the site of a drag strip and road course facility which had been in operation for almost thirty years. The original tracks were built on swampland which emerged from Mississippi River bottom in the Great Earthquake of 1811.

St. Louis Raceway Park was an 1/8 mile drag strip built in 1967 by Wayne Meinert. In 1971 Meinert acquired more land, extended the strip to a quarter mile, and renamed it St. Louis International Speedway.

A 2.6 mile road course was constructed in 1985. The circuit was largely flat, with only a few small elevation changes, but the layout was unique; parts of the drag strip served as straights in two separate sections of the road course. The road course also crossed the drag strip deceleration zone at two points. The new circuit hosted a Trans Am Series race in 1985, Can-Am races in 1985 and 1986, and assorted SCCA regional and national events.

A 1/20 mile dirt oval also began operation in 1985. The name was changed to Gateway International Raceway in 1988.

In 1995 Chris Pook, promoter of the Formula 1 and CART races at Long Beach, with financial support from the state of Illinois, purchased the facility, demolished the old tracks, and began construction of the new oval, a new infield road course, and a new drag strip.

See also the track history page at the official site, Closed Tracks at Midwest Motorsports Museum and track maps of the old and new facilities at North American Motorsports.

Race history

CART and IRL results

See main article Emerson Indy 250

NHRA Full Throttle Series history

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Nationwide Series race history

Camping World Truck Series race history

Records

* 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.

Current events

Other events

Metallica's Summer Sanitarium Tour of 2000 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.

See also

Template:Nationwide Series

Craftsman Truck Series

Atlanta - Bristol - Brooklyn, Michigan - Charlotte - Daytona - Dover - Fontana, California - Fort Worth - Indianapolis - Kansas City - Las Vegas - Loudon - Madison, Illinois - Mansfield - Martinsville - Memphis - Miami - Milwaukee - Nashville - Phoenix - Talladega - Sparta, Kentucky

Template:Champ Car tracks

Template:IndyCar Series racetracks Template:NHRA dragstrips

References

External links