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Running Events Help Fuel Resurgence of Gateway Motorsports Park

by Mike Meehan

At a venue known more for horsepower than manpower, running events are gaining traction. Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois is becoming a popular venue for running events in the St. Louis area.

“We’re getting more interest from 5K and obstacle course-type race organizers,” explained Declan O’Neill, Director of Business Development at Gateway Motorsports Park.

The track will host four running events in 2016 including the Bubble Run (4/30), Beer Fit Running Series (5/21), The Music Run (8/20) and the Insane Inflatable 5K (10/29). The Big Shark Cycling Gateway Cup will also come to the track on August 21.

Originally opened in 1967 as St. Louis Raceway Park the track was completely rebuilt in 1997 and has gone through a number of name changes along the way. In its current format, Gateway Motorsports Park includes a ¼ mile drag strip, 1.25-mile oval track and a 1.6-mile road course.

“Our facilities allow us to create a variety of running courses,” said O’Neill.

Being a self-contained venue also makes it appealing to race organizers by simplifying event planning and organization. “Running events here aren’t as complicated as street races. You don’t have to worry about closing streets, permits or hiring police,” explained O’Neill.

Positioning itself as a unique running venue is adding to the track’s recent resurgence. In November 2010, the track was closed by its previous owner, Dover Motorsports, Inc., and sat vacant until former local race driver Curtis Francois purchased it in 2011. Francois reopened the track for the 2012 season and has been building its momentum ever since.

Over $11.5 million in improvements have been made to the facility in recent years and its expansion to more than 200 acres make it the largest outdoor entertainment facility in the St. Louis region.

The track has continued its history of being one of the premiere drag racing tracks in the U.S. by signing a long-term agreement to host National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) sanctioned events through 2020. The NASCAR Camping Truck Series also returned in 2014. The track has also been certified as an IndyCar testing facility for 2016 with the hope of hosting an IndyCar series race in the future.

By expanding the types of events the facility hosts, such as concerts and running events, track organizers are attracting more than just hardcore race fans to the facility, providing more opportunities to build relationships with the local community and additional revenue streams.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit the Gateway Motorsports Park website.

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