Changes Taking Place at Route 66 Raceway

In an effort to uphold Route 66 Raceway's excellent reputation for safety and in conjunction with the NHRA and University of Nebraska, this month, the Raceway will begin and complete over $225,000.00 worth of improvements to the top end and gravel trap at the drag strip. Last year, one week after the NHRA Nationals in Joliet, late Funny Car driver Scott Kalitta tragically lost his life in Englishtown, NJ. Soon after, the NHRA moved the finish line for the Funny Car and Top Fuel Dragster classes to 1,000 feet and began looking into other measures that would make tracks safer.

At Route 66 Raceway, the following changes will be made:

* The gravel trap will be lengthened by 52 feet, bringing the total length to 264 feet at a depth of 16 inches (21,068 cubic feet of gravel).

* 310 feet of permanent and 200 feet of temporary concrete barriers measuring four feet high will be replaced along the left and right lanes, respectively.

* The new permanent wall will be complete with a ten-foot tall, 3/4-inch steel cable supported, chain link fencing that meets NASCAR safety specifications.

* The existing six-foot nylon catch net will be removed and replaced by one 8-foot and one 12-foot nylon catch nets, 25 feet apart at the far end of the gravel trap.

* 24 feet behind the second catch net, an 80-foot wide, four-foot tall concrete wall will be erected with an array of 150 NASCAR-approved energy dissipating sand and Styrofoam-filled barrels in front of it.

"We would like to thank Wayne McMurtry and Graham Light with the NHRA, NATC and our own Facilities and Operations Departments for making one of the safest tracks on the circuit even safer!," said Route 66 Raceway Supervisor John Knechtges. "There is no doubt that these improvements reduce the risk of serious harm to all involved with drag racing at this facility."

Racers and fans will be able to see the new top end make its debut at the UA Route 66 NHRA Nationals. Great tickets are available now and can be purchased by calling (815)727-RACE or by logging on to

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Route 66 Raceway
500 Speedway Blvd
Joliet, IL 60433
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