The Milwaukee Mile, affectionately
referred to as "The Mile" or "America's Legendary Oval," is a race track in West
Allis, Wisconsin, located on the Wisconsin State Fair grounds. It is a mile long
oval track that seats roughly 45,000. The Milwaukee Mile is widely known as the
oldest operating motor speedway in the world, hosting at least one auto race every
year since 1903. The Milwaukee Mile holds the distinction of being the only race
track that currently holds races for NASCAR, the Champ Car World Series, and the
Indy Racing League.
The track started out as a one-mile private horse racing track on or before 1876.
In 1891, the site was purchased by the Agricultural Society of the State of Wisconsin
to create a permanent site for the Wisconsin State Fair. The first Milwaukee Mile
event was held on September 11, 1903. William Jones of Chicago won a five lap speed
contest, and set the first track record with a 72 second, 50 mph lap. There were
24-hour endurance races in 1907 and 1908. Louis Disbrow won the first ever 100 mile
event at the Milwaukee Mile in 1915, averaging 62.5 mph.
The list of drivers that have competed at the Milwaukee Mile over the years are
a Who's Who of auto racing history: Barney Oldfield, Ralph DePalma, Parnelli Jones,
A.J. Foyt, Al Unser, Bobby Unser, Mario Andretti, Bobby Rahal, Darrell Waltrip,
Alan Kulwicki, Bobby Allison, Davey Allison, Nigel Mansell, Dick Trickle, Michael
Andretti, Harry Gant, and Walker Evans, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Dale Jarrett, and Kurt
Barney Oldfield's success at the Milwaukee Mile helped make him a legend. He set
the track record in 1905 and raised his speed in 1910 to 70.159 mph in his "Blitzen
Benz". In 1911, Ralph DePalma won the first Milwaukee Mile Championship Car race
a week before his legendary Indianapolis 500 win. Oldfield made a gold car that
completely enclosed the driver (called the "Golden Submarine"), and in June 1917
he beat DePalma in a series of 10 to 25 mile match races.
The first Champ Car event ever held at the Milwaukee Mile was on July 17, 1933.
The race was rained out. Wilbur Shaw and the other drivers convinced the track promoters
to run the race the following day and the term "Rain Date" was born. In 1954 the
Milwaukee Mile track was finally paved.
In 1964 A.J. Foyt dominated in what was to be his final race in a roadster. The
rear-engine began dominating races in the 1960s, replacing the front-engine roadster,
but not before one unexpected race. In 1965 A.J. Foyt had to tow his front-engine
backup dirt car from Springfield because his primary car and crew wouldn't make
it to Milwaukee in time for qualifying. He prepared the car himself for pavement,
and put the car on the pole with a speed of 107.881 mph. He led for 16 of 200 laps,
and finished in second place.
The track was repaved after the 1967 season. By 1970 both the 1/4 dirt track and
1/2 mile road course were closed to accommodate the pit new area.
Hugh new grandstands were installed sometime near 1930, with seating for 14900 people.
They replaced the original grandstands built in 1914. A roof was placed over the
grandstands in 1938. These grandstands stood until new aluminum grandstands were
installed in September of 2002. The Milwaukee Mile continues to forge a rich history
for racing fans all across the Midwest.
7722 West Greenfield Avenue,
West Allis, WI, 53214