Saturday, September 12 – It was a beautiful day in Chicago and we planned to accomplish a lot. We were up early and off to see the Chicago Cubs play the Cincinnati Reds at the historic Wrigley Field. We had great seats five rows up from the field right past first base and enjoyed our day in the sun. Afterwards we hustled to the car in order to beat the traffic and head back south to our hotel in Joliet. After grabbing a bite to eat and changing from baseball attire to race track attire we headed one mile east of our hotel to Joliet Memorial Stadium where tonight the final race ever was to be run. It was dubbed the “The Last Stand at the Stadium”. Midgets had not graced the asphalt track that circled the football field since 1986 but when it was discovered that the asphalt track was to be replaced by a new Olympic style running track they decided to give the old track one last hoorah. It would be your last chance ever to see a race at the stadium.
We arrived at 5:45 and could not find a place on the front stretch stadium side. They were turning fans away from entering this side and told you to travel around to the other side of the stadium where they opened up the backstretch stands. We secured our seats and before long we were joined by fellow Pennsylvania travelers, Gordy Killian and Mike Knappenberger. Racing was to start at 7:00 but at 6:00 the first of several trophy dashes took place. The opening night of this event was run on Friday so all qualifying had already taken place. Tonight was dashes and features. There were three divisions of go-karts, dwarf cars, INEX legend cars and three divisions of midgets; regular midgets, sportsman midgets and Ford Focus.
The track was narrow and there was not a whole lot of passing but then we did not expect to see this tremendously competitive event. We just wanted to be there for the final show and to add a track to our list that we would never have the chance to get again. The crowd was great and there had to be over 6,000 people there and I would say it was a huge success for the promoters also. You could say it was a win win. The fans got what they came to see and the promoters did made a profit. Sometimes fans forget that if promoters do not continue to make a profit there will be no racing. Don’t ever begrudge a promoter for making money.
Roger Ferrell from Indiana spotted the four of us sitting on the backstretch and he came over to join the fray. I must admit I probably did a lot more socializing then watching the races. But I was having a good time swapping stories and laughing. After over a dozen events, combining all divisions, we got to the main event a little after 9:00. The midgets ran a 50 lap event that saw the caution wave three times. Dalton Armstrong won the event. He took the lead from Patrick Wilda as he muscled his way past in turn one. Wilda’s car broke at the entrance of turn three and four. I guess it was a little too much muscle. Following Armstrong across the line at 9:50 was Jimmy Anderson for second and Dakoda Armstrong for third. Like I mentioned the racing was not the best but we had a good time. We hung around a bit shooting a little more bull and then we all headed out to our cars. Another one bites the dust.