How Big Is Lincoln Park Speedway? [Updated!]

With the exception of a couple of ovals, most American motorsport venues are constructed on smallish tracts of land. This keeps the price of tickets down and the track experience for the crowd as close to what they would get watching IndyCar or Formula 1 on television.

However, the size of certain American motor racing venues is anything but conventional. Racers who follow overseas series like Formula 1 or the 24 Hours of Le Mans will know all about the vast amounts of track that major sports car series must cover. Those events are usually limited to just a couple of days and require the use of headlights all night long. For this reason, teams travel to venues near their homes every other weekend and sleep in campers parked in the infield.

One of the best-known venues of this variety is the 3.7-mile Lincoln Park Speedway in Chicago. This is a former semi-basket-ball track that was constructed in 1922 and has gone through many renovations over the years. Its most recent makeover has increased the capacity of the track to a whopping 20,000 people!

This is a lot of people to fit in a venue that was built for speedway sports. With this many spectators, the action on track is almost always sold out. One of the great things about this place is that you never actually know what is going to happen next. It could be a passing breeze or a cold front that whips up the track surface into a beautiful canvas for motorcycle riders or open-wheel drivers. The possibilities are endless.

Why Is Lincoln Park Speedway Important?

Aside from just being one of the largest speedways in North America, this track also happens to be one of the most historic. It was here that Harley-Davidson first debuted their flathead v-twin motorcycle in 1914 and has remained a fixture on the track ever since. Other historic races that took place here include the Indianapolis 500 and the U.S. Grand Prix.

The list of famous racing drivers who have graced the track goes on and on. Names like Jimmy Manzer, Johnny Aitken, and Ralph DePalma are etched into the fabric of this track. This is also the place where the legendary Dick Porte won the inaugural running of the Indianapolis 500 in 1949. So, if you have a love for vintage motorsport cars and stories, this is the place to be.

Lincoln Park Speedway’s place in the history books is only rivaled by its ability to host amazing motorsport events. The last couple of years have seen the venue transform into a more modern and accessible place for residents of Chicago and their visitors to enjoy. Several renovation projects have made the track more pleasant to walk around and increased its usability for spectators. The most recent project added a small canopy that offers shelter from the sun and rain. All of these changes have only made the venue seem that much more majestic.

If you are a racing fan in Chicago or for visitors who want to learn more about the history of the sport, this place is a must-see. And, considering its relatively remote location (it’s located in the middle of nowhere, Illinois, after all), it might be out of reach for some people. So, if you don’t live in the Chicago area and can’t get enough of this great American pastime, consider making a vacation out of it and paying a visit to this amazing track.

For those who do live in the area, however, this is one place that you will want to try and make sure you get to see racing. With such a large spectator base, it is always guaranteed to be sold out. If you miss out on the action here, you might just have to wait until the next generation comes along and gives you the scoop.

How Many Degrees of Separation are There Between These Two Venues?

You may be familiar with the expression ‘a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’, which is certainly applicable in this case. In a way, this venue is similar to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in that both have had a huge influence on the entire motorsport industry. While IMS is the epitome of racing luxury, with its state-of-the-art grandstands, camping facilities, and practice tracks, LPS provides the much-needed affordable option for those looking to enjoy the sport.

To put it simply, it is impossible to have a clear idea of how large Lincoln Park Speedway actually is, as its dimensions change depending on where you stand or how you look at it. As the years have gone by, the track’s size has increased significantly in all areas. Back in 1922, when it first opened, the track had a single 2.54-mile lap. These days, the track has three distinct sections: the 0.81-mile oval, the 1.94-mile quarter-mile straightaway, and the 3.7-mile semi-circuit. Even the names of these parts of the track belie its actual size, as the 0.81-mile oval is the least significant of the three.

The semi-circuit is the heart of the track and is often the site of exciting battles between the different classes of American stock cars. The 1.94-mile straightaway, on the other hand, is more popularly known as ‘the hill’ and is where many accidents have taken place over the years. If you stand in the middle of these races and look toward the tri-oval, the combination of people, cars, and bikes is pretty stunning. Even when the track is not occupied by any racing activities, it is still one of the largest spectator attractions in the entire Midwest.

While the capacity of the track has increased quite a bit over the years, the most exciting renovation project took place in 2013. That year, the seating at the track was completely reconfigured and provided an amazing view of the action from any seat in the house. Another great point is that the changes made to the track were determined by the NASCAR officials rather than the owner, which is uncommon. Due to these changes, the track was able to host the prestigious Coca-Cola 600, the first major race of the 2015 season. This was also the first time that the track had hosted a premier event since the 1969 Southern 500.

After this race, the track was packed with spectators again and it seemed that the entire city of Chicago was congregated at this one location. With all of these changes, it is easy to see why the NASCAR officials felt that this place was worthy of being added to their schedule and why the fans showed up in big numbers to witness the action.

While many venues have closed down over the years (mostly due to the lack of a competitive market or the owner’s desire for profit), this one has endured. The primary reason for this is the incredible amount of history that this place has witnessed over the years. If nothing else, this history alone makes it a worthwhile destination for anyone who is a fan of classic cars, vintage machines, or just good old-fashioned American racing. As a matter of fact, this venue has been the site of 24 significant racing events, including 11 IndyCar races, nine NASCAR events, and three U.S. Grand Prix. This makes it one of the most important and representative tracks in the entire country. With the addition of the Canopy Stadium, the changes made to Lincoln Park Speedway in the last few years have only increased its significance.

This place is pretty much indelible in the history of American motorsport. You can’t help but be awed by its size, especially since it is usually packed with people and never feels empty. This is one place that you will want to see racing in person as it offers so much in terms of entertainment value and is a labor of love for the teams and individuals who worked on it. It is amazing to see a track that has been around for so long and was the site of so many important races continue to attract so many people each week. This is truly one of the great things about this place – its location, its size, and its ability to hold such incredible racing events – all contribute to making it one of the great American motorsport venues.

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