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Milwaukee Mile UPDATE!
2007 Indy Race at Milwaukee - By Bronco
2007 Indy Race at Milwaukee - By Bronco
April 18th 2010 - THE MILWAUKEE MILE:
NOT WHAT IT USED TO BE

By: Mark W. Theisen

West Allis, Wisconsin April 18, 2010: As I sit and plan my 2010 racing calendar it seems so sad not to include any events at Wisconsin State Fair Park Speedway, The Milwaukee Mile.

Since attending the 1958 Rex Mays Classic as an 11 year old, my first ever trip to “The Mile” I have had a long and friendly association with the oldest continually operating race track in the United States and that is what makes the cessation of major league racing so hard to take.

As a fan I watched Tony Bettenhausen, A.J. Foyt, Rodger Ward, Norm Nelson, Mario Andretti, Parnelli Jones and a host of other daredevils entertain and amaze myself with their talents. As a pitman for the legendary Billy “The Cat” Johnson I worked on his cars competing on the tight quarter-mile clay oval that was in the center of The Mile on many a Thursday evening.

After my military service I served as a staff photographer under Phil Hall for many years at “The Mile” and finally as a reporter for the Midwest Racing News, The Checkered Flag Racing News and lastly this website, so it does indeed feel eerie not to be planning on covering a major event at the track in 2010.

Last winter, after the failure of the 2009 promoter the Wisconsin State Fair Park entered into negotiations with several entities to become the 2010 promoter or promotional group. At several junctures race fans were buoyed by good news that a group would come forth and racing would continue but in the end all negotiations fell apart and without a financially solid promoter or promotional entity in place both major United States sanctioning groups: NASCAR and the Indy Racing League severed their ties with Milwaukee and left the track without major events for the first time since the track and all tracks were stuttered throughout the country during the second World War.

NASCAR has since moved on to Road America at Elkhart Lake and will race the Nationwide series cars their on June 19th on what would have been the traditional event at Milwaukee. I’m happy, on one hand, that NASCAR will remain in Wisconsin and hope for a successful event for Road America. On the other hand, if the event proves to be successful the chances of the race ever returning to Milwaukee become even darker.

The Indy Racing League will not race at all in Wisconsin this year and it’s event in Joliet, Illinois this fall will be the closest they get to the Badger state after being a part of the racing scene for decades.

But is The Mile dead? The answer is No. Yes they do not have a major event scheduled, one that would produce the kind of revenue the Wisconsin State Fair Park needs in order to continue to pay the debt service obligation on the new grandstand built to insure that major league racing stayed in Milwaukee but they have events that will keep the track alive, albeit not in the same fashion it has been used to for the last 100 years.

May 15th will see the first event of 2010; the Midwest Enduro Stock Car Series will stage a one day event at the track. Racing Schools will operate on May 26th, June 26th and 27th as well at the Drivetech Racing School on August 20the, 21st and 28th.

Even though NASCAR has abandoned the track for racing they will return for three tire testing events, June 8th & 9th: June 14th and 15th; and August 23rd and 24th. The flat Milwaukee track is well suited for the NASCAR teams to test on prior to events at similar configured tracks.

American Speed Association events on July 16th & 17th and September 10th & 11th will bring stock car racing back to the track in what promises to exciting racing as young talents, with their sights set on moving on to NASCAR, will get an opportunity to race on a track that once hosted the cars they hope to one day compete in.

June 4th through the 6th will host the Wisconsin Grand Prix Double Regional event for sports cars and September 3 rd through the 5th will see the a high speed auto cross weekend at the track.

The last event on the schedule and the one with ties to the past, The Millers at Milwaukee – A Vintage Indy Car Event is set for July 9th through the 11th and will feature the annual display of many vintage cars that competed on The Mile and around the world. The late Dave Uhlein, so loved this event and this year will be the first since his passing and it expected to be a stellar display of vintage cars in his honor.

The Milwaukee Mile continues to operate its website: www.milwaukeemile.com for those interested in keeping up with what is scheduled or for any additions or deletions as the summer passes.

One can only hope that in time, perhaps a better economical climate for this country and a promoter that possess the grit and pizzazz to revitalize and return the track to its proper position as one of American’s premier racing venues will be possible.