Gateway Motorsports Park
|Official Website: http://www.gatewaymsp.com/|
|Location||700 Raceway Boulevard
East St. Louis, Illinois 62201
|Address||700 Raceway Blvd, Madison, IL 62060|
|Major events||National Hot Rod Association, American Drag Racing League, USAC Traxxas Silver Crown Series, (former:NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series)|
|Length||2 km (1.25 mi)|
|Banking||Turns 1 & 2 – 11°
Turns 3 & 4 – 9°
Straights – 3°
Gateway Motorsports Park (formerly Gateway International Raceway) is a race track in Madison, Illinois, USA, just east of St. Louis, Missouri. After being shuttered by former owner Dover Motorsports Inc., on Nov. 3, 2010, it was announced Sept. 8, 2011, that the facility would re-open and host an NHRA Full Throttle Series event Sept. 28-30, 2012. St. Louis real estate developer and former professional racer (INDYCAR Indy Lights) Curtis Francois has signed a one-year lease to run the track. It hosted a NASCAR Nationwide Series event and a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on a 1.25-mile (2 kilometer) oval, a 1.5-mile (2.4 km) infield Road Course used by SCCA and various car clubs, and also has a quarter-mile drag strip that hosts an annual National Hot Rod Association event. The facilities were owned by Dover Motorsports, a group that also owned what is now Memphis International Raceway, along with Dover International Speedway, and the Nashville Superspeedway.
The first major event held at the facility was a CART series held on Saturday May 24, 1997, the day before the Indy Racing League's Indianapolis 500. Rather than scheduling a race directly opposite the Indy 500 (as they had done in 1996 with the U.S. 500), CART scheduled Gateway the day before to serve as their Memorial Day weekend open-wheel alternative without direct conflict. After a couple years, track management grew increasingly dissatisfied with its apparent use, as seen by some, as a political pawn or statement by CART. This event had poor attendance as fans generally chose to travel to the Indy 500 for the weekend instead. For 2000, the race was moved to the fall. In 2001, its was dropped from the CART series schedule, and switched alliances to the Indy Racing League. After mediocre attendance, the event was dropped altogether after 2003.
The 1.25-mile (2.01 km) oval is a favorite of many of the drivers who race there due to the unique shape and different degrees of banking in each corner. Turns 1 & 2 have characteristics similar to New Hampshire Motor Speedway while Turns 3 & 4 are similar to Phoenix International Raceway and the track's egg shape mimics the legendary Darlington Raceway. Several NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams test at GIR in preparation for these events.
There is also a 1.6-mile (2.6 km) infield road course used by sports car clubs and motorcycle organizations through the warmer months. This road course hosted a round of the AMA Superbike Championship in 1995. Canadian Miguel Duhamel won the superbike class in blistering hot conditions.
In late 2006, Lenny Batycki took over as the vice president and general manager of the track. Unlike most of his predecessors, Batycki brought with him extensive marketing and PR knowledge of motorsports, having been a vice president at the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, NC and a vice president at Richard Childress Racing for a number of years, working with the late Dale Earnhardt for the last years of the seven-time champion's career.
In early January 2008, it was announced that the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers would move their sponsorship from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck race to the NASCAR Nationwide Series race. The July 19 Nationwide Series will now be called the Missouri-Illinois Dodge Dealers 250. At the 2008 event, Carl Edwards became the fourth driver to win two NASCAR Nationwide Series events at GIR.
It was a big year in 2008 for the NHRA at GIR as legendary 14-time Funny Car champion John Force earned his 1,000th career round win against Ron Capps. Making the event doubly special was the fact it happened on his 59th birthday one week after he lost to his daughter, Ashley Force, in the finals at Atlanta for her first career Funny Car win. Another storyline in the day's event was Rod Fuller beating his arch rival Tony Schumacher in the finals. It would be a big win for Fuller as it represented one of the very few times Schumacher would be beat in an historic season for The Sarge, who won 15 races, with seven of them consecutively with 31 round wins in a row, en route to his fifth consecutive Top Fuel title and his sixth overall.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Gateway was sponsored by Camping World, becoming the Camping World 200. Coincidentally, the race was won by defending Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, whose #33 Truck fielded by Kevin Harvick Inc. is sponsored by Camping World.
Also at the 2008 Camping World 200, GIR introduced its brand-new victory lane, a throwback to the one used at Rockingham. The project, spearheaded by Batycki, was an immediate hit as Hornaday and the rest of the Truck Series competitors were very complimentary of the new addition.
In 2009, two new events were added to the season schedule: The American Drag Racing League, a sanctioning body headquartered in nearby O'Fallon, Missouri, and the USAC .25 Midget Series, the racing league's new quartermidget tour. The USAC event is in conjunction with the Gold Crown Nationals, a midget race co-sanctioned by USAC and POWRi scheduled to run at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Illinois.
In 2010 Gateway received a second NASCAR Nationwide Series race due to the closure of Memphis Motorsports Park. The date was the former late fall event at Memphis. This was the last NASCAR event held at Gateway for the foreseeable future, as Dover Motorsports announced it will not seek sanctioning for the three events held at the track in 2010. The track did not make an announcement concerning any of the other events the track holds. The now closed down Nashville Superspeedway would get Gateway's place on the schedule in July, while the October race date will remain vacant. The NHRA did not schedule an event for 2011 at Gateway either.
On November 3, 2010, Dover Motorsports announced that Gateway was officially closing and ceasing all racing operations at the track. On Sept. 8, 2011, the official announcement was made that Gateway would re-open in 2012 and host the 1st Annual AAA Insurance NHRA Midwest Nationals September 28-30, under the leadership of Curtis Francois.
The current oval and infield road course were built in 1996 on the site of a drag strip and road course facility which had been in operation for almost thirty years. The original tracks were built on swampland which emerged from Mississippi River bottom in the Great Earthquake of 1811.
St. Louis Raceway Park was an 1/8 mile drag strip built in 1967 by Wayne Meinert. In 1971 Meinert acquired more land, extended the strip to a quarter mile, and renamed it St. Louis International Speedway.
A 2.6-mile road course was constructed in 1985. The circuit was largely flat, with only a few small elevation changes, but the layout was unique; parts of the drag strip served as straights in two separate sections of the road course. The road course also crossed the drag strip deceleration zone at two points. The new circuit hosted a Trans Am Series race in 1985, Can-Am races in 1985 and 1986, and assorted SCCA regional and national events.
A 1/20 mile dirt oval also began operation in 1985. The name was changed to Gateway International Raceway in 1988.
In 1995 Chris Pook, promoter of the Formula 1 and CART races at Long Beach, with financial support from the state of Illinois, purchased the facility, demolished the old tracks, and began construction of the new oval, a new infield road course, and a new drag strip. The owner of Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis said it would cease all operations at the track on November 3, 2010.
Dover Motorsports Inc. said on their website that the track could no longer be operated with "an acceptable return."
The company previously announced that it would not seek to run any NASCAR Series events at the facility in 2011. The track ran its final NASCAR Nationwide Series event on Oct. 23, 2010.
The announcement was made Sept. 8, 2011, that the track would re-open in 2012, hosting an NHRA Full Throttle Series event under the leadership of St. Louis businessman and former professional racecar driver Curtis Francois.
CART and IRL results
NHRA Full Throttle Series history
- Gary Scelzi (TF)
- Jerry Toliver (FC)
- Ron Krisher (PS)
- Matt Hines (PSB)
- John Coughlin (PST)
- Melanie Troxel (TF)
- Ron Capps (FC)
- Dave Connolly (PS)
- Matt Smith (PSB)
Nationwide Series race history
- 1997 – Elliott Sadler
- 1998 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- 1999 – Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- 2000 – Kevin Harvick
- 2001 – Kevin Harvick
- 2002 – Greg Biffle
- 2003 – Scott Riggs
- 2004 – Martin Truex, Jr.
- 2005 – Reed Sorenson
- 2006 – Carl Edwards
- 2007 – Reed Sorenson
- 2008 – Carl Edwards
- 2009 – Kyle Busch
- July 2010 – Carl Edwards
- October 2010 – Brad Keselowski
Camping World Truck Series race history
- NASCAR Nationwide Series Qualifying: Brad Keselowski & Reed Sorenson*, 33.158 sec. (135.714 mph), July 18, 2009
- NASCAR Nationwide Series Race: Carl Edwards, 2 hr. 5 min. 54 sec. (119.142 mph), July 29, 2006
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Qualifying: Ted Musgrave, 33.294 sec. (135.159 mph), 2005
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race: Jack Sprague, 1 hr. 45 min. 31 sec.
- SCCA Formula Atlantic Overall: Hans Peter, 53.635, March 29, 2008 
- IRL Indy Racing League Qualifying: Helio Castroneves, (175.965 mph), August 10, 2003 
- CART Championship Auto Racing Teams Qualifying: Raul Boesel (187.963 mph) May 22,1997
* Keselowski and Sorenson tied for the fastest laptime in qualifying, both setting a new identical track record. By virtue of being higher in owner's points, Keselowski was given the tiebreaker and credited with the pole.
The Illinois State Police uses Gateway to train new Troopers in high speed vehicle operations (Emergency Vehicle Operations Course).
- Gateway didn't host races during 2011 season | NASCAR Nationwide Series
- Dover Motorsports officially shuts down Gateway | NASCAR Nationwide Series
- 2013 USAC Traxxas Silver Crown schedule
References↑Jump back a section
- Gateway Motorsports Park Official Website
- Gateway International Raceway Page on NASCAR.com
- Trackpedia guide to driving this track
- High Resolution image from Google Maps
- North American Motorsports page with historical information and track maps
- Track history at the Official Site
- Classics Cars.com Can-Am race results
- Closed Tracks at Midwest Motorsports Museum
- St. Louis International Raceway at Ultimate Racing History