For those who are unfamiliar, Stateline Speedway is an annual dirt track race that takes place in a dry grass oval in Central Illinois. The race is the culmination of a season that features a variety of events from dirt bike racing to Formula One-style automobile races. While the racing itself is exhilarating, the most exciting part about Stateline is the atmosphere. For those who have never been to a racetrack before, this is a whole other ballgame. There is nowhere else quite like it.
I grew up in the Chicago area and have been to Stateline regularly since I was a child. When I told my wife that I would be visiting this year for the first time since I was 20 years old, her response was “Oh no, not again!” A few months later I found myself in Springfield, Illinois, for the Illinois State Fair. As I walked towards the track, I could already feel the adrenaline rushing through my veins. It was like coming home again.
When I reached the entrance, I was surprised to see that the gates were already open. It takes a while for the folks at Stateline to open the track up for the season, but the wait is worth it. The crisp air sweeping across the dry ground is invigorating and the smell of gasoline is in the air. The anticipation of what is to come is what makes this race so special.
When the lights went out and the race was underway, the noise was overwhelming. I have only been to a few other tracks in my life, but nothing even comes close to touching Stateline. The excitement is palpable and everyone seems to be having a blast. As the cars and bikes whizzed around the track, I noticed that there were families and groups of friends gathering on the sidelines. It was as if everyone had known about this one night event for months and were looking for a way to make the most of the night. It reminded me a lot of when I would go to a Cubs or White Sox game and have families on my tail for the entire duration. There is something about being at a major league baseball game that makes it special, but Stateline does that plus a whole lot more.
The Atmosphere Of Stateline
It is difficult to put into words the atmosphere at Stateline. To start with, it is an all-weather track, which means that even if it’s raining or cold out, you can still have a good time. The track is also quite small, which makes it more intimate and exciting. Even though the track is small, it never feels crowded because there’s always plenty of room for everyone. The fact that it is only one lap makes it even more exciting. The size of the track limits the field to only the fastest cars and the most skilled drivers. This leaves plenty of room for everyone to have a good time.
Even if you’ve been to Stateline before, it’s always a treat to be there again. The track has changed a little bit since I was last there, but it’s still the same basic track with the same amazing atmosphere. Anyone who has never been there should visit at least once in their life to feel what it’s like. That’s all there is to it.
The Layout Of Stateline
What really sets Stateline apart from other tracks is the layout. They don’t call it a “Dry Grass” oval for nothing. The track is absolutely bone-dry, which means that it is perfect for car racing. If there’s even a small chance of rain, which there rarely is, the track attendants mow the entire thing down. This means that every single lap is full throttle, which is something you rarely see at other tracks. It’s always a rush to the checkered flag because the last lap is the hardest. This makes it a good test for rookie drivers.
Due to the size of the track, the cars never really slow down. Even when they are exiting the tracks, the cars are still going full speed. This is because there is nowhere for them to go. Another great aspect of the track layout is the turns. They are all over the place and they are extremely sharp. It is very easy to lose your car at Stateline, which I think adds to the excitement. Like I said, it’s very hard to find somewhere with such an incredible atmosphere. When you do find it, you have to make the most of it while you can.
As I’ve previously stated, the atmosphere at Stateline is incredible, but that’s not the only part. The entire experience is incredible. When you walk around the track before the start of the race, you can feel the electricity in the air. The drivers are still warming up and having fun in the car, which means that there’s a little friction within the paddock. This is where you get a peek into the real racing spirit. Even though the cars are hundreds of pounds of metal, they still get along and have fun with one another. This should remind everyone that racing is a contact sport and always has been. There are no flocks of cars all driving in a pack. The individuals inside those cars are getting along and having some fun.
When the gates open and the cars thunder around the track, it’s incredible to watch. The speed is terrifying and it’s easy to lose yourself in the excitement. The only thing better than being there when the gates open is being there when they shut and the checkered flag waves. It’s an incredible experience that you and your family will not soon forget.