While reading the September 22 Chicago Reader, I noticed that in the article "For Spectators: Teams you can root for" there were two items that were not mentioned: (1) The Chicago Marathon. The 2006 Chicago Marathon will be held on Sunday, October 22. (2) The motor sports events at Chicagoland Speedway in nearby Joliet. Three of the 2007 races at Chicagoland Speedway will be on July 14 for the USG Durock 300 (NASCAR Busch Series), July 15 for the USG Sheetrock 400 (NASCAR Nextel Cup Series), and September 9 for the Chicagoland Indy 300 (Indy Racing League).
It is noted that the Chicago Marathon has a history dating back to 1977. Also noted that Chicago has a history of motor sports, years before Daytona, Florida, and Indianapolis, Indiana.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1895, the first automobile race, sponsored by the Chicago Times-Herald, was held in the streets of Chicago and Evanston. The start/finish line was near the present-day Museum of Science and Industry. The race distance was 54 miles. The winner was J. Frank Duryea, driving a 1895 Duryea, using 3.5 gallons of gasoline. This information is from the Encyclopedia of Chicago and at www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.
org/pages/2380.html. Throughout the next 111 years there would be motorsports events in Chicago at venues like the Elgin National Road Race (held annually during the years 1910-'15 and 1919-'20), Speedway Park in Maywood (the Loyola University Medical Center now occupies the site), Santa Fe Speedway in Willow Springs, Raceway Park in Blue Island, Waukegan Speedway, Rockford Speedway, O'Hare Stadium in Schiller Park, Soldier Field (yes, in Chicago), and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. More information in the Encyclopedia of Chicago and www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/2188.html.
People would wonder about motor sports at Soldier Field. Yes, there were midget-car and stock-car racing at Soldier Field in the 1940s and 1950s. A prime example was a NASCAR Grand National Race that was held at Soldier Field on July 21, 1956. The race distance was 200 laps for 100 miles (Soldier Field had a 0.5-mile track, considered to be a short track.) This 1956 race was won by "Fireball" Roberts. More information about the race can be found at racing-reference.info/race?id=1956-33&series=W.
Throughout these 111 years of motor sports in Chicago, history is made by the mile by names like J. Frank Duryea, Eddie Rickenbacker, "Fireball" Roberts, Buck Baker, Lee Petty, Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Dan Wheldon, Sam Hornish Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Kevin Harvick, etc.
Hopefully, readers of the Chicago Reader will read about and recognize the 111 years of motor sports history in Chicago. Likewise, these readers will also read about and recognize the 30 years of Chicago Marathon history.