Today, I paid a visit to the Dirt Oval 66 on the Chicagoland Speedway/Route 66 Raceway complex. Beginning with the 2015 season, Sherri Heckenast became the promoter of the Dirt Oval.
Sherri had purchased the Team Demolition Association in 2008 and that series had been calling the Dirt Oval its home. The Dirt Oval was originally designed as a 1/2 mile dirt track and in its early years was the home to some exciting open wheel racing put on by USAC and the World of Outlaws. The last time the WOO ran was in 2005 and since then, other than a few specialty events, the TDA was the only tenant.
This brings us to 2017, Sherri has initiated a complete revamp of the racing surface and shrinking it to a 3/8 mile oval. Beginning on April 27th, the POWRI Sprint Cars, POWRI Midget’s, POWRI DII Midgets, and UMP Modifieds race on opening night. The 2017 schedule includes a total of four days of WOO racing (both Sprints and Late Models) in June and October, The TORC series (off-road trucks) in May, in August its Monster Truck Mayhem and in September prior to the arrival of NASCAR, the Chicagoland’s Dirty 30 Late Models, Modifieds, Winged Sprints racing will be held. These are all in addition to Team Demolition Derby. To see the full schedule please click here.
In conversation with Sherri, I learned the biggest hurdle to bringing dirt racing back to the complex was the racing surface itself. It had been reported that the cause of WOO not returning to the Chicagoland complex was that debris from the demolition derby racing cars had caused numerous tire failures. As they started to recondition the track, it was discovered that the track had become imbedded with rocks and stones. It took a massive cleanup to clear the dirt racing surface of the rocks and stones. Sherri believes this was the cause of the WOO tire failures. I took a photo tour of the track and here are some photos:
Tomorrow, there was to be an open practice, however the track is still a little soft, so that was cancelled. The first practice is scheduled for April 20th. By then it is hoped all the exterior walls would be replaced. I am really looking forward to racing coming back to the dirt oval and encourage everyone to come out and support the efforts of Sherri and her staff!