A full 2023 schedule of over 50 events from March through October was released today for Rockford Speedway’s “Finale at Rockford” Last Lap Season.
An era of entertainment history will transition at the completion of the 2023 season for Rockford Speedway after a remarkable 75 year run, as the nearly 50-acre site has been transferred to HJS Development for commercial development.
The 2023 schedule will include all the historically favorite events, as well as several “last-time” motorsports, fan, and community events. To download the schedule, please visit www.rockfordspeedway.com.
After nearly seven decades of hosting families, fans, and racers, the Rockford Speedway will close for large spectator events at the completion of the 2023 season on October 29, 2023.
The adjoining banquet and convention facility, Forest Hills Lodge, built in 1977, will close permanently on June 1, 2023. The staff at Forest Hills Lodge is working with customers to relocate booked events. The building will be dismantled to accommodate street and utility infrastructure.
Rockford Speedway General Manager David Deery spoke for the Deery Family to express the family’s gratitude to the community, racers, and fans. “For years we have watched the surrounding area evolve into a vibrant retail corridor, this day has been coming and while it’s great for the city, it stings for the thousands of fans and racers who have made Rockford Speedway their “family” for generations. We know this will be the last year for our major events losing use of the property in front of the Speedway along Hwy 173 as that area will be developed first, with the track itself remaining until further land sales.”
Speedway President Susan Deery stated; “This is a sad day for the racing community and our Speedway family. Generations of families have been involved – racing, watching, working – and to see it come to an end breaks my heart. We are very proud of the contribution the Speedway has made to the racing industry, as the starting spot for so many in racing and business, and the impact this place has had on the greater state line community, but it doesn't take away the sadness.”
The historic racetrack has hosted thousands of race events which drew the sport’s biggest stars and received national attention, as well as legendary concerts, flea markets, carnivals, rodeos, holiday events, and circuses. Over the years, the Speedway has provided a venue for hundreds of charitable events and was the source of part-time employment for thousands of state line youth.
Since 1948, fans have packed the stands to witness the thrill of a race as the track hosted the biggest names and series in racing. Hugh and Jody Deery took sole ownership of the Speedway in 1966 and the flamboyant pair were on the leading edge of promotion and fan engagement, known world-wide for cultivating creative and entertaining events which the industry coined as “Rockford” events. The National Short Track Championship set the tone for postseason big multi-day events. Racing of all types, from the Midgets in the 40’s, Hot Rods in the 50’s, Stocks in the 60’s, up to today’s line-up have filled the summer nights.
Even though the track is closing after 76 years, there will be plenty of memories made as the 2023 schedule continues through October. The Rockford Late Models, Roadrunners, Short Trackers, Figure 8, Sportsmen, Original Sixers, Bandits, Super Stox and Spectacular Drags have been Rockford standards and will be featured during the 2023 final season. A special Grand Celebration weekend event will also be announced on a date later this summer.
Infrastructure construction will commence summer 2023 along the frontage of Highway 173 with planned traffic rerouting with minimal disruption of Speedway events.
Over the past 30 years, the surrounding farm fields have been fully developed into commercial, medical, and large retail locations. The Illinois Highway 173 corridor underwent million-dollar improvements in the past decade, including shaving 15 acres off the Speedway property.
Recently passed owner Jody Deery resisted developers for many years but had begun discussions of development following the devastation of the COVID-19 shutdowns.
Longtime fan, driver, employee, and track official Steve Dickson was overwhelmed by the news. “This is going to hit people hard... kids talk about their grandparents who used to race here, or as a kid coming here and sitting in the old wooden bleachers, the place was always packed...there’s a lot of history here, this news will tug on a lot of hearts.”
Dickson continued, “There’s always been something going on, whether it was stock cars, monster trucks, bicycles, concerts, midways, rodeos, car shows. Anything you can imagine over the years went on here. It’s a nice facility. It’s been a great place to work, nice people, a great family to work for. I really hate to see it happen. Times are changing and with what’s going on with the neighborhood, it might be the right decision to make. I can’t say anything other than I’ve enjoyed being here.”
HJS Development, managed by Shorewood Development, has embarked on the redevelopment for the entire parcel including the Rockford Speedway, Forest Hills Lodge, and the adjoining vacant land which will occur for the years ahead.
Speaking on behalf of HJS Development, Shorewood Development principal Ryan Fitzgerald stated, “The property is the last developable property for Loves Park on 173 and is in demand. Shorewood understands the Speedway has been a family entertainment tradition and realizes this will leave a void in the City of Loves Park and the racing world, however, the development opportunities along the 173 corridor are limited creating pressure on the Deery Family.
For information on the 2023 “Finale at Rockford” Last Lap Season visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or call 815-633-1500.
-Rockford Speedway Press Release
-Photo from Rockford Speedway on Facebook.