For the first time since 2019 there will be drag racing at Route 66 Raceway in Joliet, Ill., as the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series returns to the track for this weekend’s Division 3 race.
It marks the first racing action at the popular facility in three years, with more than 400 cars expected to take part in an event that starts on Friday and runs through Sunday. The North Central Division race will feature a full slate of Sportsman racing and some of the top drivers in the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, including standouts in Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car, with each team excited to return to the standout Chicago- area facility.
“There’s so much excitement for this weekend, and the passion that has been displayed by the staff and management at Route 66 has been truly impressive,” North Central Division Director William Tharpe said. “We’ve all dedicated a lot of time to this event, and we want everything to go well. We all have the same mindset and want to relish and enjoy this weekend and put our best foot forward.”
Longtime NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart is set to call the action this weekend from Route 66 Raceway. He worked with local media outlets to promote the event leading into the weekend and jumped at the opportunity to be a part of NHRA’s first race at the track since the 2019 campaign.
“I’m really looking forward to returning to Route 66 Raceway this weekend for the Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event,” Reinhart said. “William Tharpe and everyone at Route 66 put a lot of effort into making this happen. After working four straight weekends, this was supposed to be a weekend off, but when William called me, I jumped at the offer. The chance to return to Chicago was worth it, and we’re all excited about the weekend.”
Racing begins at 9 am each day, with Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car qualifying at 5 pm on Friday, and noon and 3 pm on Saturday, leading directly into eliminations. Eliminations continue at 9 am on Sunday.
Beginning last year, Tharpe and his team looked into hosting a divisional race at Route 66 Raceway, which first opened in 1998 and played host to NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series events for more than 20 years, making several visits to the track. He worked closely with the track to put a plan in place to host an event for the first time in three years, and Tharpe is excited about the possibilities for this weekend and for the future.
“The engagement and response from people has been great,” Tharpe said. “It’s a shot in the arm for local businesses, too, and really everyone in the area. Knowing there’s a venue like this out there, we wanted to do what we could to help get it back open and show the current owners and management team what we could offer. Hopefully, we can provide a great service to this market and put on a thrilling show this weekend.”