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A NASCAR race in Madison could bring in $60 million to the St. Louis region

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Curtis Francois, World Wide Technology Raceway owner, hold up a flag for the inaugural "Enjoy Illinois 300" race on Monday, March 14, 2021, at the track in Madison, Ill.
Kelsey Landis
Belleville News-Democrat
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, right, and Curtis Francois, World Wide Technology Raceway owner, hold up a flag for the inaugural "Enjoy Illinois 300" race on Monday at the track in Madison.

MADISON — A NASCAR cup race this June at World Wide Technology Raceway could bring in as much as $60 million to the St. Louis region, state and local officials said Monday.

It’s the first time the racetrack will host one of the country’s top racing series, which regional leaders expect will attract about 83,000 people to the area June 3-5.

“This track breeds excitement,” said World Wide Technology Raceway owner Curtis Francois. “It’s going to be an amazing race, like a Super Bowl and a World Series happening at the same time in the same place.”

During a visit to the track on Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the race is a prime opportunity to bolster Illinois tourism, especially in Metro East communities. The state’s tourism bureau is sponsoring the race, named the Enjoy Illinois 300.

“We’re showing the world that one of the best places to enjoy Illinois is right here in the Metro East,” Pritzker said.

The NASCAR race comes about a decade after Francois, a former race car driver, bought the crumbling track and spent years rehabilitating the property, including repaving the whole facility, he said.

“It’s something that is new to our area but has a long track record of success all throughout the country,” Francois said. “It really is an opportunity for St. Louis to have something brand new.”

The race also lays the foundation for the racetrack in Madison to host similar NASCAR races for the foreseeable future, he said.

“This one race, if done well, can lead to many more years of economic change for the Metro East,” Francois said. “The long-term impact on the community around us will be our lasting legacy.”

Some local leaders, like Madison Mayor John Hamm III, have already seen outside interest because of the raceway’s presence.

“We’ve had numerous people want to know what does the city own, what kind of deal they can do,” he said. “They’re really shopping up and down IL-203 right now.”

Hamm said he expects hotel owners and others will want to develop land the city owns next to the racetrack. In this way, the track is emerging as a key economic anchor for the Metro East, Francois said.

Pritzker agreed, noting how the benefits for the region don’t stop at the Mississippi River.

“We need to think about these kinds of projects as regional and whether there's benefit to another side of the river along with ours that's OK,” he said.

Eric Schmid covers the Metro East for St. Louis Public Radio as part of the journalism grant program: Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project. 

Eric Schmid covers business and economic development for St. Louis Public Radio.

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