Beasts have roamed the Milwaukee Mile at the Wisconsin State Fair Park. Hooves have pounded the track. Professional football players have left their blood and sweat on the infield.
Throughout all of the years, nothing has left an imprint like Indy car racing.
Indy cars have run more races at the Milwaukee Mile than any other racetrack in the United States -- 115 since 1945. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the Milwaukee Mile this weekend after a year’s absence for the Milwaukee 225.
“People relate to history and the depth of the history of the track," said Danica Patrick, who will compete in the No. 7 Team GoDaddy car for Andretti Autosport. "That is what makes the Indy 500 so special and it is 100 years old. And Milwaukee is even older. So it is special to race here.”
Anyone who’s someone in auto racing has raced at the Milwaukee Mile. William Jones won the first race at the track in 1903. The list of champions includes A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Mario Andretti, producing some of the most thrilling races in history.
In the 1965 Tony Bettenhausen 200, Foyt stunned the nation when he raced his front-engine dirt car to the pole against a field of the more modern rear-engine cars. His crew had not arrived with his rear-engine car in time for qualifying, and Foyt had to tow his machine to the track and prepare it for racing himself. One the day of the race, Foyt had a shot at first before having to make a pit stop for fuel, but still finished an impressive second.
A week after winning the Indianapolis 500, Tom Sneva was the center of controversy in a 1983 Milwaukee race. After he completed a 10-second victory over Unser, fans piled on top of Sneva’s car in Victory Circle to take pictures and celebrate with the team.
As inspectors did their final look over the car, they found that Sneva’s side mount skirt was an eighth of an inch too low and gave the win to Unser. Sneva appealed that the reason the car was too low was because of the fans sitting on it, and his victory was reinstated.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon is the defending champion of the IZOD IndyCar Series race and is eager to get back on the track.
“It feels so good to come back to Milwaukee,” Dixon said. “We can really race here and the track is so good for our cars. I think everyone missed coming here last year.”
The Milwaukee 225 weekend will feature seven levels of competition, including the IZOD IndyCar Series, Firestone Indy Lights, Formula Mazda, USF2000, USAC Silver Crown, USAC Midgets and USAC .25 Midgets. The seven races will take place over Father’s Day weekend, June 18-19.