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Blue Island's Raceway Park, Illinois (Images of America Series)
     

Blue Island's Raceway Park, Illinois (Images of America Series)

by Stan Kalwasinski
 

On September 24, 1938, Raceway Park officially opened its doors, and the track remained open for over 60 years. The first race was won by Harry McQuinn, who went on to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and become the chief pit steward of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1948, Raceway Park added stock car races to its regular program, and the track became a

Overview


On September 24, 1938, Raceway Park officially opened its doors, and the track remained open for over 60 years. The first race was won by Harry McQuinn, who went on to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and become the chief pit steward of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In 1948, Raceway Park added stock car races to its regular program, and the track became a popular entertainment venue throughout the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s as thousands of Chicagoans filled the stands. The track held its last race in 2000 and was torn down the following year. Although Raceway Park is now a part of history, the "World's Busiest Track" is still in the hearts and minds of many Chicagoland race fans.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Title: Marian Catholic senior pens racing book

Author: Casey Toner

Publisher: Southtown Star

Date: 2/7/2010

Marian Catholic High School senior Samuel Beck has had a taste for speed since he was an infant.

After all, the resident of Hammond, Ind., was only five-months old when his Dad took him to Blue Island's Raceway Park.

By 9, Samuel Beck was racing go-karts that topped out at 86 mph. It's a no-brainer as to why Beck became a full-fledged racing fanatic as he grew to be an adult.

"It's full of action," Beck said. "It takes a fair amount of guts to drive a vehicle in triple digit speeds inches away from (other cars)."

Few, however, could have predicted the 18-year-old would have authored a book about his passion before he even walked down the aisle to graduate high school.

"This is something I thought was interesting," he said. "I took my writing interest and my history interest and combined them."

His book, "Blue Island's Raceway Park," an entry in the "Images of America" series, is set to be released Feb. 15. He penned the 128-page book with Stan Kalwasinski, a newspaper racing columnist and historian.

The book, which features at least 180 photographs, chronicles the famous track that hosted racing events for more than 60 years.

It covers the history of the track from conception in 1938 to its demolition in 2001.

"If it was still there, I'd be prepping my car for the season," Beck said.

He said the track originally was built to be a dog track for gamblers. Gaming on those races was never legalized so it was remodeled into a track for cars.

It started as a racetrack for midget cars and it slowly began to feature more and more regular car races. Famous drivers including Bud Koehler and Bobby Dotter often raced there.

"In its heyday, the raceway was more popular than the Chicago White Sox," Beck said, adding the track used to be filled to capacity every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

To research the book, Beck said he and his co-author contacted racers, track owners and fans who kept photographs and records of the events.

"I figured I would write it before too many people passed away and all that knowledge is gone," he said.

Beck said he has been promoting the book to friends and family. With help from his Dad, he created a Facebook group titled "Raceway Park Fan Club," devoted to the track. It has already gathered more than 500 fans.

"It's amazing, we've heard all across the country from people who are in love (with the raceway)," he said.

In the fall, Beck plans to go to college. Among other schools, he has applied to Notre Dame University. He wants to major in mechanical engineering, of course.

"We should combine the aesthetics from the 1950s and 1960s with modern technology," he said. "Car knowledge is becoming a lost art."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780738577432
Publisher:
Arcadia Publishing SC
Publication date:
02/15/2010
Series:
Images of America Series
Pages:
128
Sales rank:
1,326,844
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.40(d)

Meet the Author


Stan Kalwasinski and Samuel Beck, although a generation apart, have been lifetime race fans and began attending races at Raceway Park when they were kids. Kalwasinski covers Chicago-area auto racing for multiple publications and was also the track announcer for Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville for over 15 years. Kalwasinski and Beck have selected the best images from their photograph collections, as well as from others, to tell the story of the World Famous Motordrome.

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